April Action: Raise our Own Flag

Event: Raising the Flag for Autistic Pride
Location: Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West
Date: April 3rd, 11:30 am
Organizing contact: a4aontario@gmail.com

Background
Each April at City Halls across our province, parent-led organizations gather and raise a flag for “awareness” about autism. Through their events, these organizations perpetuate the myth that parents should be the primary spokespeople for autistic lives and realities. Autistic individuals are excluded from speaking, much like autistic self-advocates have been excluded from consultations on the provincial policies that impact us the most.

It is time to change that. It’s time to raise our own flag: for autistic pride!

Our Event
Our flag-raising will be happening at the same time as another flag raising –that of Autism Ontario –and this is purposeful. By raising our own flag on April 3, we are taking back public space and representing ourselves. We are also demanding a place in the development of policy for our province and our communities. Nothing about us without us. 

Our speakers will be discussing the issues that really matter to autistic Ontarians – such as human rights, education, employment, housing and more. We will also be countering the “tragedy” narrative of autism, expressing our pride and having fun!

Our flag bears the infinity symbol, which represents the diversity of the autistic community as well as the greater neurodiversity movement. It is red to symbolize the #redinstead movement, which calls for a greater visibility in April and throughout the year.

From Awareness to Acceptance
Globally, the neurodiversity movement is shifting the narrative of April –from parent-led autism “awareness” (often portrayed more like “bewareness”) towards autistic-led understanding and acceptance.

As Kassiane S. writes: “Acceptance and awareness come from vastly different mindsets. Awareness seeks to highlight how other we are and emphasize the differences and distance between our ways of being. Acceptance looks at commonalities we share and at the strength inherent in diversity. Acceptance seeks to meet us where we are, or at least far closer to equitably than awareness does.”

If you are autistic or an ally, we hope you will join us in raising the flag for autistic pride this Tuesday! For more information, please visit us online at a4aontario.com or via Facebook.

About A4A: Autistics for Autistics, founded in September 2017, is Ontario’s first autistic self-advocacy organization. We are a collective of autistic adults, advocating for reform to Ontario’s approach to funding and services. We are united in supporting all autistics in the province on the issues that impact our community.