By Clara H
NOTE: This writing piece discusses a highly sensitive topic. If you are easily triggered by ableism and/or bullying please avoid reading on.
Recently I was informed about a new trend going around the social media platform, TikTok called the "Autism Challenge". Those participating have been making videos mimicking autistic traits such as, stimming, having tics, meltdowns, and are even faking seizures. It was created attending to celebrate those on the spectrum as they may struggle through the current crisis but quickly transformed into a huge bullying scandal across the entire internet.
Of course, the disability community is outraged by this and is currently working to put a complete stop to this horrible "challenge". Being on the autism spectrum myself, I too am quite upset this is going around. This is not something I ever would have thought I'd be writing about as I have assumed people knew better than this.
Those with autism spend their entire lives living in a world as outsiders. We work very hard to hide from hate so we can live in peace with those who are accepting of our differences. I use the internet to distract myself from the obstacles I face on a day-to-day basis. I particularly find enjoyment in looking at comedy to cheer me up. Knowing that this is what people see as humor is frighting to me. It doesn't make me feel any better about the tough times. This makes me feel like I am less than everyone else and the only reason I have autism is for people to make inappropriate jokes about.
I feel like those who are engaging in this activity haven't even considered that the autism stereotypes could be incorrect. At the end of this, I hope that maybe the disability community can at least change the views of a few people participating in the "trend". Even if the only thing we can seem to teach them is that we do have the ability to stand up for ourselves would be good for our community.
Looking into the bright side of things, I honestly think that the Autism Challenge will bring positivity into our lives later on. Throughout this experience, we are finding out that so many people are on our side. This gives us a chance to come together to prove to the bullies that we do have voices. Besides, we have all have experienced being hurt because of our conditions before, so we can use our techniques to fight through this.
The autism community that's on Tik-Tok has been making their own videos telling people that this kind of behavior needs to stop as soon as possible. No matter what they say about it their comment sections overflow with hatred and yet they keep getting back up because that's how strong we all are. Putting all of our power together just creates more strength so we can get more people on our side. Even the number one Tik-Tok creator, Charli D'Amelio is helping us through this by posting about it on her Twitter account.
As for me, I have been using the social media platform I have to urge people to not take part in the latest online trend. I don't have many followers on my account but I'm still using it to help get the word across to those who do come across my page.
I am fully aware that TikTok has been removing several of these videos and has terminated the account that started this awful challenge to begin with. On the other hand, many users are still uploading ableist videos to the app but leaving out the word "autism" to avoid getting caught. At this point, it's clear that those certain individuals are only doing it for attention and to bring people down which in reality it's just showing us who to avoid in the future.
I do want to mention that I'm thankful that so many people in society are taking action and were able to decrease the number of videos being created as quickly as possible. The "trend" has only been around for a few months and to be able to get a large number of videos removed is incredible. Knowing that the number of people speaking up about this grows every day I think that this will not be around much longer. The ableist bullies will soon realize that the autism community has a much louder voice.
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