Ever since I came out of the Autism closet last month, I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages of love and support I’ve been receiving. In hearing so many stories from other women on the spectrum, it didn’t take long to notice a very distinct pattern in all the emails, comments and tweets I’ve been reading and replying to.
A majority of the women who have contacted me are feeling alone, like they don’t belong anywhere. They’re frustrated with the lack of support and resources available to them. They’ve been told they can’t be Autistic, by doctors and family alike. They’ve been turned away, misdiagnosed or ignored. They’ve seen and heard people saying that Autism is a tragedy, and they’ve been treated like they’re broken and need to be fixed.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and April is Autism Awareness Month. I’m behind Renée Salas, who recently wrote an amazing post on The Golden Hat Foundation blog about striving for more than awareness, about striving for acceptance.
That’s one of the reasons why I recently joined forces with two incredible Autistic women, Silver Huang and Tara Doyle, to create the Autistic Women’s Collective. Whenever I haven’t been working on Wild Sister lately, I’ve been working on this. My evenings and weekends have been spent brainstorming and mind mapping with Silver and Tara, writing copy and press release drafts, and setting up the community itself. And it’s been so worth it, so rewarding, and so much fun.
The AWC will be an online social network for women on the Autism spectrum, and mothers of young daughters on the Autism spectrum. It will be a place where Autistic women from all over the world can connect, be themselves, share their story and find support. The AWC will also offer a list of resources on Autism, like books, blogs and other organizations.
The AWC aims to promote acceptance and neurodiversity through sisterhood, and to provide a welcoming place for all the Autistic women who are feeling alone or just want to talk to people who will understand.
This is so, SO needed. And after chatting to Silver and Tara every day over the last few weeks, sharing our own stories and revelations as we work to build this new community, I can’t tell you how incredible it feels to talk to women who understand me so deeply.
There are things about being Autistic that I can describe to others and maybe they’ll understand, but there’s nothing like talking to someone about something you spent your whole life thinking was just you, and then hearing the words “I completely understand what you mean, I feel exactly the same way.”
It feels freakin’ awesome.
It’s complete validation that, no, you’re not crazy, and no, it’s not just you who does that/thinks that/feels that way. And even though we have our differences, there’s absolutely no judgement, just acceptance.
When Silver, Tara and I first connected to start creating the Autistic Women’s Collective, it was out of frustration at the lack of support and resources available for women on the spectrum. But it’s already evolved into so much more than that.
It’s about letting women know that they’re not alone, they are supported, they are heard, and they are accepted for who they are.
I’m so excited about this, you guys. In fact, I haven’t been this excited and passionate and ALIVE about something since I started Wild Sister almost three years ago.
To learn all about the AWC and sign up to be one of the first to join, be sure to read our Press Release:
A huge THANK YOU to all of you in the Wild Sister community, your support and encouragement has given me the confidence to stand up and do something.
Thank you to Silver and Tara for being just as excited and passionate about the AWC as I am and working your butts off, thank you to the Autism community for being so incredibly welcoming, and special thanks to the Autism Women’s Network for your amazing support in helping us launch.
Here’s to acceptance,
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