Friday, April 18, 2008

You may already be "aware"

Is it an epidemic of alarming proportion or merely the latest disease-of-the-week? Whatever you believe, you have surely noted the recent media attention paid the sudden increase in the disorder called “awareness.” Not to be confused with its un-quotation-marked cousin, awareness, this is an insidious condition threatening to numb the minds and consciences of the multitudes through an endless parade of meaningless rhetoric. Worst of all, you may have this condition and not even know it! While “awareness” manifests in a variety of forms, for purposes of this article, we will focus on autism “awareness,” one of the most prevalent varieties. Here is a brief quiz to determine your “awareness” quotient.

True or False:

1) You have more than one (1) of the following “awareness” promoting items in your possession: ribbon; t-shirt; bumper sticker; button; clock; potholder; corkscrew; coat rack; exercise bicycle; cat litter scoop.

2) You have heard that some autistic people find the awareness ribbon offensive. You don’t understand why, so you continue to display the ribbon.

3) You have been told directly that some autistic people find the awareness ribbon offensive. You understand exactly why, but you can name two or three autistics who disagree, so you continue to display the ribbon.

4) You have been told that some autistic people find the awareness ribbon offensive, and you do understand why, but they are wrong, and you are right, so you continue to display the ribbon.

5) Your own autistic child has expressed unhappiness about the ribbon, but you continue to display the ribbon.

6) You make every effort to sell or otherwise distribute the ribbons at community events, some of which have nothing to do with autism.

7) When asked to explain what “awareness” means to you, you mumble something about tragedy and “needing to find a cure.”

8) Your definition of “autism” has little to nothing in common with the recognized diagnostic criteria.

It is important to remember that “awareness” is a spectrum disorder. To judge your own level of “awareness,” first answer questions listed above. For each item endorsed (true), add points according to this scale: Number 1 = 1 point; 2 = 2 points; 3 = 2 points; 4 = 3 points; 5 = 5 points; 6 = 2 points; 7 = 2 points; 8 = 3 points.

Your score:

1-3: Typically "aware"
4-8: “Awareness” Not Otherwise Specified
9-12: High functioning “awareness”
13 and over: Severely “aware”

Do not despair! There is hope a clue will be found. Please use the new ribbon pictured below to let everyone know that you are now “aware” of the “awareness” epidemic. And don’t forget to do your “research.”

This public service announcement was made possible by ABFH, who pointed out the need for this new "awareness" ribbon, based on information about the (puzzling) ribbon culture found in this post at Autism Vox. Thank you ABFH, and Kristina Chew.


  1. Brilliant! Where can I get one of those ribbons to put on my motorcycle? :)

  2. I LOVE that ribbon. It's one I would actually hang!! :)

    And, I did chuckle at the cat litter scooper. Would not doubt there's one out there! Have you seen all the tattoos too???

  3. OK, OK. I'll 'fess up to having two (2) autism-related bumper stickers on my car. One is an Honor Neurodiversity bumper sticker from the Raventones, and the other is a Getting the Truth Out bumper sticker from

  4. Sorry Phil,

    That stuff won't get you a diagnosis. Poser...

    Jade, S.L.,

    Thanks! I've put the "awareness" ribbon in the shop, so you can sticker it as needed.


  5. Bev,

    If we don't find a clue for those in the 18-20 point ranges, are they doomed to institutionalization for the severest of the severely aware?

  6. Brilliant!

    And you post this just as I am assembling about 300 awareness ribbons. Not autism puzzle awareness ribbons, of course. :-P

    My school is doing the Day of Silence (, and I'm organzing the event. We're giving out black ribbons in memory of Lawrence King, a gay teenager who was murdered for his sexuality.

    See? People can use their ribbon-wearing (and making) powers for good instead of evil.

  7. anonymous,
    I am glad you asked this. The severely aware are indeed doomed to institutionalization, unless they receive a very specific form of therapy called AB"A" (Avoiding Bogus "Advocacy") at the earliest possible opportunity. Accept no substitutes! If you have a family member affected by "awareness," by all means contact a qualified AB"A" therapist immediately.

    Thank you. That is a very good thing you are doing.

  8. I have more of a weariness than awareness. A harness on my weary awareness. A hairnet? A bear den: a bear nest. Someone who transforms into the loch ness monster during a full moon: a were-ness. (this is all a bare jest).

  9. Great new ribbon. I want a kitty liter scoop with this ribbon on it.

  10. not to dismiss your point, but i mis-read #5 as 5) Your own ribbon has expressed unhappiness about the ribbon, ...
    Sorry your video has gotten some negative attention. You might be accustomed to such, but it still sucks that someone would attack you for your self-advocacy.

  11. Can I use the ribbon as an icon? People need to know about "Awareness"!

  12. Yes, 427. Please share the "Awareness" as needed. Thank you.

  13. I don't have any of the above mentioned "awareness" signs, but I do have a son with Asperger Syndrome. If I did possess any of the above mentioned "awareness" signs it would be in hopes that when I told people my son had Asperger's they didn't look at me like I was speaking a foreign language.

    Yes, some people take things too far. But make fun all you want. Some of us are living in the "awareness" every damn day.

  14. Hahaha Trump is trying to promote Brown People Awareness. An epidemic of rapists and only The Great Wall of the U.S. will be the cure! Ghengis Khan is lurking behind them borders waiting to suck the life out of the U.S. economy. In the last speech I watched where he was in a stadium in Alabama, I could literally hear the shouts of "White Power!" In the background.

    *scratches record*

    Now I see the parallel with that of neurotypical people railing "awareness" about the "autism condition" and how they go about it.

    Just a side-note, BTW, a couple of weeks ago Trump tweeted something to the effect of autism being related to excessive vaccinations. I kid you not! So, I already know that aspect of his plan regarding healthcare. :-/


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