When I was growing up my favourite TV shows were Bewitched, I dream of Jeannie and the Dukes of Hazzard. In hindsight I was learning how to camouflage, how to be compliant, and that no matter what, that good ol boys could do what they wanted because they never meant no harm.
We were told we could be anything we wanted to be if we worked hard and looked out for our most vulnerable citizens, animals, children and elders.
“There was never a caveat , the world is your oyster unless... Your dare to be you.”
I am in my late 40’s now and I am content with my Autistic diagnosis, it clarifies a few things for me. The road was long and exhausting and ridiculously expensive which is why I laugh when I hear “Oh anyone can get an autism diagnosis “ Really, please introduce me to those mythical people, I am as likely to meet them as winning the lottery.
For the first time in my life I felt the weight fall off my shoulders, but make no mistake the road ahead was rocky, it came with challenges, sometimes it was one step forwards and two steps back. But it also came with self-awareness and a sense of belonging, connection and community that I have never experienced in my life.
My children are also Autistic, they knew that I was, way before I knew. Just like my Autistic friends knew before I did.
Let’s bust this myth once and for all Autistics do have friends and I have a few wonderful, strong friendships that I envisage lasting the rest of our years. I say years not lives, because Autistic adults of this vintage don’t exist apparently. Yet here we are and there are quite a few of us.
Recently our community became aware that a company had produced a brand that would identify us as Autistics to the Public. The purpose of the brand according to them “With the roll out of the ASD Talisman nationally to all ASD affected individuals, we aim for the ASD Talisman to be the instantly recognised symbol for Autism in the country and in time, throughout the Globe” The language used throughout their website is the first indication that this company does not follow the social model of disability which is about capacity building and inclusion not identification. Autistic people are Autistic people they are not affected by Autism.
Apparently, we need this Talisman as we exhibit quite a few offensive behaviours such as appearing aloof or drunk and waving our hands around.
My resting bitch face has nothing to do being Autistic and if I appear drunk it is because I have had one or two too many wines.
There are however quite a few conditions that mimic intoxication and some that also mimic Autism.
CPTSD is also an invisible disability are we going to ask trauma victims to be branded, many of whom are first responders themselves?.
A recent parliamentary inquiry into the mental health of first responders found 10 per cent of employees have probable PTSD, compared to the general population which is estimated to be 4 per cent. This enquiry also found that rural and regional first responders face additional pressures, such as working alone and shift fatigue.
The Beyond Blue report cited in the inquiry also found more than a fifth of emergency service workers have high levels of psychological stress — almost three times the national average.
I am imaging a colour coded system AKA The Handmaidens Tale to identify our most vulnerable.
Usually the majority of Autistics that would encounter the police force are adults. But I do not know any Adult who would consent to wear this company logo.
So, I can only assume that the target market was always Autistic children.
Children are an important demographic for marketers
Children today have more money than previous generations, there has been an increase in dual income families, parents are time poor and often overcompensate with monetary rewards.
Children have enormous influence on their parents spending decisions and most children today have got nagging down to a fine art form.
But children cannot give informed consent and are easily manipulated and deceived by marketing.
Children represent three markets –
Direct money – They have their own money through pocket money and gifts e.g. for birthdays
Influence – Children are big influences on parents and carers
And the most significant of all, the future. The most loyal customer a company will ever have is the “emerging customer” (children) who are constantly exposed to thousands of both direct and subliminal messages every day.
It is not just the advertising of the product itself that sets the alarm bells ringing. This company also sells corporate sponsorship, this means that brands of other companies will be associated with their logo. You have no control over affiliations with other brands.
So, I implore you even if you are not Autistic or have an Autistic relative or friend you will know someone or have been in contact with someone who has an invisible disability.
That person could even be you.
With global aspirations outlined on their website this is not just an Australian issue.
Please sign our petition and share it around the world.