Daily Archives: October 31, 2010

Online Communication #Shutdown for Autism Awareness Criticised by Autism Activists #TalkAboutAutism

A campaign encouraging people to stop using Facebook and Twitter today, November 1, to support autism awareness has been criticised by some people with autism.

The “Communication Shutdown” has been supported by people with autism-related conditions including Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University Dr Temple Grandin, and Australian counsellor Rachael Harris. Ms Harris is quoted on the Communications Shutdown website as saying “Electing to shutdown social communication mirrors autistic silence. But it also draws attention to the isolation and intense loneliness experienced by those who are impeded from connecting socially with others”. 

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg, leader of the Vermont Chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, has criticised the Shutdown on her blog, saying “it’s counterproductive to tell non-autistic people to stay away from online sites when so many autistic people overcome “isolation and intense loneliness” by connecting with one another online”. She also criticised Brisbane’s AEIOU Foundation, originators of the shutdown, for not having any autistic members on their Board of Directors.

Corina Becker, of the No Stereotypes Here blog, who has been diagnosed as autistic, has also criticised the shutdown, proposing instead that today be Autistics Speaking Day. Activist Kathryn Bjornstad has set up a Facebook event for Autistics Speaking Day.

ADDITIONAL: Ms Cohen-Rottenberg said she was unable to do a telephone interview with 4ZZZ News because, like many autistic people, she has difficulties with auditory processing.

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