|Me, at age 2. Even then, I was #notmssng (c) John Elder Robison|
My response seems to mirror the prevailing sentiment with respect to this campaign - autistic people are not missing, and nothing is missing from us. In fact, a counter hashtag had appeared moments after I read it - #NOTMSSNG.
The misjudgments about priorities and the marketing mis-steps have overshadowed the science for now. That's unfortunate, because the concept behind this latest effort seems to have a lot of merit. And I'm sure it could have been enthusiastically embraced, had it been presented in the right context, with autistic oversight, and as part of a larger effort whose main thrust was directed more toward deliverable benefits.
So what can we do, to avoid more public relations debacles like this, which hurt us all? We can bring autistic people into positions of authority in all the agencies who speak for and about the autism community, and who fund research into autism. If the organizations are guided by autistic thinkers we might all be surprised at where that could lead us. And believe me, we need answers. The challenges we face are all too real, and very diverse.