OK, so an organization called Communication Shutdown is trying to make a statement about autism by saying nothing. They're asking people to skip using Facebook, Twitter and the like on Monday, November 1 to get people to see how hard it is for autistics to communicate.
This makes as much sense as advertising hot dogs by giving away fish sticks.
Their argument is that social communication is one of the biggest challenges for people with autism. The idea is, if you skip using them for a day, you'll get an idea of how hard it is for autistics to use them.
How, exactly? All it'll do is give you several hours of your day back. Sounds more like national turn your TV off day than anything that's going to help autism.
You can more easily understand what autism feels like by logging on. You know how hard it is to detect sarcasm online? How without the inflection of voice and all the verbal cues we hear and see every day, you simply can't tell if a person is kidding or not? And how we have to resort on acronyms like HHOK (Ha ha only kidding) and NSAIRMI (No shit, asshole, I really meant it)? You know how embarrassing it feels to ask "Um, sorry, but are you making a joke?"
Imagine what it's like standing in front of a person and not being able to tell if they're kidding. THAT'S what it's like being autistic, or someone with Aspergers or any of the other syndromes in what's known as the Autism Spectrum.
High functioning Aspies and autistics are PERFECTLY good at communication. It's the "Social" bit they don't get. They don't have the wiring in their head that allows them to have empathy or grasp a joke. It comes off as naivete or callousness just plain being weird. It's as infuriating as being in a foreign country, barely being able to understand the language, the idioms and the humor, and constantly choosing the wrong word, and getting weird looks or outright laughed at.
Here's a slogan - "When you're autistic, you just don't get it".
The key to education is communication. Greg Grunberg, late of Heroes and Group Sex and soon of Love Bites is spearheading an organization about epilepsy literally called "Talk about it". All these recent "It gets better" videos are all about making sure kids understand that bullying will end, and things will improve. And somehow this group thinks that NOT talking about autism for a day will help, save for the money they collect for all the people pledging to log off for a day?
Now don't get me wrong. I'd love it if other advocacy groups tried this publicity gimmick. Like if Peta chose not to talk to meat-eaters, to show them how much less exciting their day would be without vegans in it. They could call it "shut out the meat-eaters day" And I could call it "Second Christmas".
And I'd LOVE to see Jenny McCarthy shut up for a day. I don't see HER name in the mosaic of well-meaning people promising to skip a day tomorrow.