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Spalding's Callum Brazzo: Disney are doing a good job in breaking down stigma

Autistic History Month is soon to be over. Over in the minds of those that only cared for 31 days.

Over in the minds of politicians. Over in the minds of the general public.

But it's not over for me and my community.

Autistic author Callum Brazzo
Autistic author Callum Brazzo


How do we keep the messages of history informing our future? Children.

Children's minds are conduits to an unbiased, unrestrained glee that we get weened off when we're older in favour of 'growing up.'

You're only as young as you feel, so they say, and whilst we cannot be Benjamin Button, Disney have been releasing and will continue to release some very interesting material in relation to the autistic community.You guessed it, aimed at children.

Pablo is in series 2 after a very successful series 1 and is the first series on Disney to feature an autistic central character (likely debatable when you think about undiagnosed individuals but let's keep it simple) and I think that, on the whole, it's a triumph.

I don't actually watch TV (really) and am surviving just fine without it but when it comes to bringing children up in a world that has authentic autistic representation, it makes me elated to know that Pablo exists.Autistic children exist. Allies of the autistic community exist. Remember that.

From the straightforward to the subtle with Float on Disney's streaming platform.

It follows the story of a boy that literally floats…symbolising 'difference' and whilst it's not explicitly about someone autistic, it can easily be seen as being about us especially when the filmmaker has said in a making-of video that his son is on the spectrum. Woop woop!

I can see both sides of the argument with 'labelling' a child as 'different' or saying 'autistic' but the reason I get riled up when I hear this hesitance is that 'autistic' is not a dirty word. And what better way to embrace the autistic identity than by entering it into the young generations of untainted minds. A fresh start indeed.

By having more children speaking their truths and connecting with their autistic peers, it breeds the very environment I've mentioned in The Compassionate Classroom.

Media's portrayal of the autistic identity is crucial for this to happen and Disney are doing a good job in breaking down the stigmas and truly 'seeing' us.

Now, cynics wouldreserve full indulgence in what they are doing due to feelings of Disney hopping on a bandwagon of 'trendy' topics such as being autistic and perhaps merely making money for their new streaming platform but from reports I have read and shares from really amazing autistic organisations such as Autistic Inclusive Meets (AIM) in London, I am confident in Disney's ability to hear us. If not, there is now a precedent and I think that we as autistic people can feel empowered to be part of the narrative.In the 'Loop.' one could say.

And that leads me to Loop, due for release on 10th January 2020, it's about 'a non-verbal, autistic girl and a chatty boy [who] are partnered on a canoeing trip. To complete their journey across an urban lake, they must both learn how the other experiences the world' (Yahoo.com)

It's really difficult sometimes to see the bright side of things when so much tragedy is occurring, this month and every other, but I also need people and for myself to acknowledge those times when autistic people are not put on a pedestal of pity, used as inspiration porn or for anything else counterproductive, but put on equal footing with everyone else.

We are not textbooks, we are people (from my poem 'Nameless') and the array of content that is hitting and will continue to hit our screens and blast into the lives of children, with our technology only moving forward from here, is deeply pleasing.

I'll be in London for the Autistic Christmas Craft Fair with AIM on December 1 but there's more news coming soon on other things….

Further Reading: Autistic Christmas Craft Fair (Autistic Inclusive Meets - AIM) www.facebook.com/events/419511522002032/The History Of The Puzzle Piece autisticook.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/autistic-history-month-the-puzzle-piece/

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