A series of poems by Lynne Fetter



“Autism Awareness.”  

They don’t tell you this, but that’s their code for
“1 in 54 people have autism.”
“70-90% of people with autism are unemployed.”
“80% of people with autism live with their caregivers.”
A fearful summary of deficit and
shameful dependence.
They cannot see it; we certainly do: 

Ableism 101. 


I ask myself every day
when they will realize
we are not reducible to numbers;
we are not math to be solved or calculated.

I ask myself every day

when I will realize the same. 



Awareness: it’s superficial.
It passes by before they know it.
Like seed planted in rocky soil,
it withers quickly in the sun;

April: here and gone.
In their zeal, they create a tsunami of blue,

but after 30 days, they’re nowhere to be found. 

They’ve left sun-dried statistics
in piles of dust at our feet.
We sweep away the dust.
We till our own soil. 



There are those who listen.
There are those who do the work to understand.

They hear us.
Our allies feel like home.
If they all plant their seed in the fertile soil that we have tilled,
if they all water their plants with hope and love
every day we are alive,
then the roots will grow deep, the plants tall. 

They, and we, will harvest the

grain of acceptance and inclusion,
many times more grain than we sowed.

We will be free. 

[Image Description: This graphic has two sides. The left side says “Awareness.” It is very blue. Everything is in different shades of blue. It has a puzzle piece, a crouching person, and a lightbulb on it. It has some words: “Suffering” “Cure” “Tragedy” “Afraid” “Desperate” “Burden” “#LightItUpBlue” “Missing” “Hopeless” “Deficits” “Epidemic” “Tsunami” The right side has a white background. It is fabulously rainbow. It has the rainbow Autistic Self Advocacy Network logo, a rainbow infinity symbol, a blue, pink, and purple graphic depiction of two adults holding the hands of a child, and a red lightbulb with a heart in the center. It has these words in lots of different colors on it: “Inclusion” “Strengths” “Teach” “Respect” “Accommodations” “Help” “Community” “Support” “Love” “#RedInstead”]

To learn more about why Autism Acceptance is important as opposed to Awareness, click here

To learn more about why Autism Speaks is harmful and why you should wear #RedInstead or #LightItUpGold, click here.

To learn more about identity-first vs. person-first language (“autistic person” vs. “person with autism”), click here to read a blog post from A Diary of a Mom (She is the neurotypical mom to 2 children, one autistic and one non-autistic). 

Lynne Fetter is the current MSW intern at the Partnership for People with Disabilities. She is neurodivergent, and loves to write and speak about disability issues. She is passionate about the ways we can make intentional language choices to both push the boundaries of current structures of power and oppression and re-empower the voices of disabled and neurodivergent people.

Leave a Reply