by Debra Hosseini
Last week I noticed the buzz of the social media around a flash blog called This is Autism. It was created by Cynthia Kim in response to Suzanne Wright’s Autism Speaks op-ed piece. After seeing some wonderful art and poetry come across the flash blog I decided to dedicate a portion of the Sunday edition of The Art of #Autism newspaper and this blog to the This is Autism flash blog. One of the Art of Autism’s mission is to change the dialogue around autism. It does our children no good to hear negative messages from the media.
Cynthia received 245 responses on one day November 18th. There were also people who wrote on the same theme and posted on their own blogs in the days following the event. I’ve never participated in a flash blog before so I decided to ask Cynthia some questions. I also decided to include some of the images and a powerful video from the flash blog.
What is a flash blog?
Cynthia: A flashblog is a day when a group of people share their thoughts about a single topic. Flash blogs often focus on written work, but we encouraged submissions of visual art, videos, etc. as well, to make it as inclusive as possible. Contributors either post on their own blogs or submit work to the flash blog website for publication. The flash blog publishes the work or links to the work on the day of the event, creating a central repository for everyone’s contributions.
What motivated you to start the flash blog?
Cynthia: When I read Suzanne Wright’s letter about Autism Speaks’s view of autism, I was shocked and angry. Again and again she used the phrase “This is Autism” in bold letters. Yet the autism she was describing was not the autism I know. I watched the protests unfold across the internet and still those words stuck in my mind: This is Autism. Linked to misery and loss, burdens and hopelessness, broken families and broken children. The way I experience autism and the experiences of autism that I see in the community are more varied and often much more positive. I wanted to create an opportunity to show the world what autism is in the words and works of autistic people and those who love and support them.
What do you hope will be the results of the flash blog?
Cynthia: I hope that people–autistic people and the people who love them–will have their voices heard. It was especially exciting to see how many young people participated. I hope that the flash blog contributions can help others understand what it’s like to live as an autistic person or to love an autistic person. Alarmist rhetoric dehumanizes autistic people. Sharing our individual experiences can be a powerful way of countering that.
Video shared by Amanda Mills. Read her blog about the video on Autism Acceptance.
Cynthia Kim is the proud owner of many labels including woman, wife, mother, writer, editor, entrepreneur and most recently, autistic. Diagnosed with Asperger’s in her early forties, she began blogging about life on the spectrum at Musings of an Aspie. She is the author of “I Think I Might Be Autistic: A Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis and Self-Discovery for Adults” and is a regular contributor to Autism Women’s Network and Autism Parenting magazine. Cynthia Kim is a moderator at Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance on Facebook. She credits the moderators in helping her create the flash blog. You can follow @thisisautism on twitter.
The Art of Autism is helping with the Autismhwy.com Chalk festival scheduled for April 12th in Covina. We want to make this the big autism awareness event in Los Angeles.