Mumsnet is launching a new campaign today called This Is My Child. There have already been a couple of national media articles about it in the Guardian and on the BBC website. I was asked to write a guest blog post about going out with Archie which can be read here.
The aim of the campaign is to challenge negative attitudes towards those with disabilities and bust a few myths (such as autism is just an excuse for poor behaviour). Being run by Mumsnet it has a chance of reaching a wide audience and I hope educates a few, or even many. In the early days and even sometimes now, being surrounded by a sympathetic general public may have saved my blood pressure or tears on more than one occasion.
This is one aspect of an awareness campaign. Over the years my own drive to raise awareness has changed a little. Initially I just wanted people to know and to understand what life was like with autism, and to cut us all some slack. Now it’s a little different. I want people to understand that Archie is someone worth knowing. He has a great sense of humour (yep, despite that severe autism). He’s a thrill seeker (roller coasters, and he surfs much bigger waves than me) and he’s intelligent. Faced with the behaviour of someone with severe autism this last point can be hard to understand – to be fair it took me a long time to realise just how clever Archie is. His behaviour does hide what is going on inside, although with the talker and the computer it’s getting easier for him to demonstrate that there is quite a lot going on in there. The publication of books such as The Reason I Jump help spread this message of unrecognised intelligence. As previously mentioned a writer/director friend and I have developed a film project that tells the story of a young person, not Archie but not unlike him and his blossoming into living a full life where his abilities are recognised and valued. The script has been read (and loved) by some well known and talented actors who are keen to come on board. Like many film projects funding is an issue, so, if you fancy funding a film please get in touch.
A general recognition of Archie and others like him, having lives worth living is perhaps my biggest wish for now. If people approached those with disabilities with this understanding things might change. The Mumsent This Is My Child campaign is a step in the right direction.
Thrilled and Most Appreciative for your involvement in this, Chris and Archie! Movers and shakers, the two of ya 😉
lol – if it helps to stop some people sucking lemons it’s worthwhile 🙂
My thoughts exactly. Both my girls are interesting, witty and thoughtfully intelligent people to be around. The sad thing is people only find this out of they’re prepared to get to know them and most of the time they don’t get past their desire to stare at us 🙂
Staring is a pain isn’t it? Although my personal red rag to bull response is the slow headshake….
*if they’re prepared …
I really loved your post about Archie on Mumsnet. I went through a whole range of emotions whilst reading it and then ended up with a big smile on my face. P.S. I also have skin like a Rhino! 🙂
Snap, our boys are both aged 14 and my son is also severely autistic…. mind you, there is no way my son will every get on a rollercoaster or go surfing! Hehehe!
We had an similar awareness program launched here, however, the choice of words that were used were very unfortunate and the program had to be stopped….
I love seeing what you’re up to on Facebook 🙂 Shared rhino hide. But I guess you get to see real rhinos more easily than me 🙂
Oh dear that awareness program sounds unfortunate!
Archie is very sensory seeking. When he was sensory aversive as a smallish child we couldn’t even get him on the beach, let alone on a surfboard….!
A beautiful post, thanks for sharing x
Canadian example shows how important this campaign is!!
Yes, I saw that awful letter. 😦 Horrendous.
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