Autism awareness. Just when you think it couldn’t get any more annoying, it does. And it’s only April 2nd.
Apparently, the folks at Autism Speaks, in their infinite wisdom about all things autism, decided it would be an excellent idea to spend good money (you know, the kind that might actually go for supports and services and other boring and unimportant things) on a useless piece of technology. How useless?
Very useless. This technology allows people to imagine how parents might feel when their autistic kids don’t make eye contact with them.
Yes. It’s a simulation exercise to make people aware of the utter heartbreak of having a child who struggles with eye contact. Except, of course, in this video, the child isn’t struggling. The child simply does not make eye contact at all. Ever.
Take a look:
Source: Autism Speaks, Ad Council
What’s this video about? It’s about how other people feel about autistic people.
It’s not about how autistic people feel when others try to make eye contact. It’s not about why autistic people have difficulty with eye contact. It’s not about why autistic people often avoid eye contact. It’s not about why eye contact can be emotionally and neurologically overwhelming for autistic people.
No. It’s all about what a bummer it is for others that we have this disability at all — if lack of eye contact can even be called a disability. In some cultures, too much eye contact is considered rude. Are people in those cultures crying their eyes out over a lack of sustained eye contact? It’s doubtful.
But of course, Autism Speaks’ message isn’t about understanding. It’s about awareness. Of how other people feel about us.
And it’s utterly shameful.
© 2013 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg