When dealing with certain populations one word gets thrown around a lot, that word is advocacy or advocate.
What is this term?
Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group which aims to influence decisions within political, economic, social systems and institutions.
That seems pretty simple enough. To make change in a society about a issue/idea, one must advocate for it.
An example would be like No Shave November or the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. These simple activities brought the issues of prostate cancer and ALS to the forefront of societies mind in how we see and deal with these two issues by creating awareness of their respected presence in our society.
So the way I see it, advocacy has two steps. The first is to create awareness of the issue, while the other is to create acceptance/inclusion of the said issue into a society. These do not work with out each other and do not stop just because one is being fulfilled. Again, I will use NSN as an example. NSN created awareness for prostate cancer in our society by getting males to not shave during the month of November and hopefully getting a few to research it themselves on the facts of prostate cancer in order to tell other about why they are doing this activity. It then created inclusion/acceptance of those having to struggle with prostate cancer by showing them that people really are trying to understand this issue better, be accepting of those with the cancer, and help funding for the research needed to help stop this particular cancer.
So the question lies in the Autism Spectrum community of how to successfully advocate for it.
Some people think most people know about its prevalence, so they think creating awareness is not necessary. Some like me think, that since this so called "disorder" varies so vastly from person to person that there will never be creating enough awareness. However, the resources are still vastly lacking. If you asked me what the best way to advocate for ASD is, I could not give you an easy or great answer. The best way for me was to write about it.
This is why I created this blog, to try to create awareness for this issue. Not just for my friends and family to read, but for everybody so that there can be a better understanding of what having an Autism Spectrum Disorder is like and to hopefully help others realize that this is a major issue that we should be addressing.
The issue is that it is not something that should be cured or treated but something that should be nourished so those who are on the Spectrum can blossom and succeed in our society. That not everyone thinks a certain way and should not be taught as such. That just because someone has difficulties that they should not be shunned or outcasted as an alien or robot. That being successful in life is not always about the number of zeros on a paycheck.
Lastly, the most important thing I believe about advocating is that once you start you can never shun or belittle another issue in society based on your personal views or opinions. I say this because the most successful times for advocacy was when multiple groups supported each others issues to advance each others goals for each groups advocating efforts.
Mark Fleming- Person on the Autism Spectrum