To advertise or not to advertise? Isn’t that really the question?
There are lots of different autism t-shirts out there. Some pro, some con. I think the one thing we can all agree on is that we LOVE OUR “fill-in-the-blank” WITH AUTISM. Many people are eager to wear their affiliations with the disorder, literally, on their sleeves. I will often wear my annual Walk For Autism t-shirt that I get when I donate more than $50 to the Autism Society of Maine. I’m happy to do that. It gets people asking questions, which is the point.
Then there’s the people who are super proud of their autism. I don’t sit on that bandwagon. I think my son, who battles autism and deals with its effects every day, is awesome. I am super proud of him; but frankly, I hate autism itself. More on that in an upcoming post.
There is the crowd of those with autism who feel that they should be able to speak for themselves, and that they aren’t an incomplete puzzle or a combination of symptoms – they’re whole people. There’s a whole undercurrent of those who oppose Autism Speaks.
I rather like the t-shirts that point out that a person is a person first, and, oh by-the-way, has autism. Jake used to wear a t-shirt like that we bought from the National Autism Association. Jake wasn’t much of a talker then, and I thought we needed to explain ourselves to everyone within sight of his chest. After a while, I began to think of it as an apology I didn’t really think I had to make.
So I guess that’s my question. Advertise or not? Is it OK to make your child a walking billboard for your beliefs and stance? At first I thought so, now I don’t. If Jake grows up, gets a good understanding of his disorder, and wants to wear a t-shirt that proudly declares it to the world, fantastic. If he chooses not to, that’s OK too. It’s ultimately his choice.
I wear an autism t-shirt from time to time to spark a conversation; so let’s talk. What do you think? Leave me a comment below…