Like a lot of people who haven't been directly affected by it, for a long time I didn't know much about Autism Spectrum Disorder. I'd heard a bit about it, and seen Aspergers in particular used as an excuse for bad behavior by people who had diagnosed themselves over the internet without actually consulting a doctor of any kind. I was was aware it was some kind of mental condition, but that was about it, until I moved in with a housemate who was doing volunteer work at a respite home for children with various behavioral problems. The stories she came home with were shocking - she was dealing with children who were far more affected by ASD than anyone I'd ever come across, and I was horrified to realise just how severe the condition should be. But the part of her experience that has really stuck with me is the stories of the occasional child who was abandoned at the respite home. Parents who would drop their kids off for a weekend, and just never come back, because they simply couldn't deal anymore. They didn't have the support, they didn't have the resources, they just didn't have it in them to take care of their children any more, and the ida that both parents and children were so lost and alone broke my heart.
I think increased awareness can make a huge difference in the lives of people with ASD. The amount of hostility they can be subjected to is just shocking, and this hostility often comes from a place of confusion. The more you understand something like ASD, the easier it is to see the person behind the condition, and hopefully treat them with the dignity and compassion they deserve. In aid of this cause, it's World Autism Awareness Day today. The theme is "Light It Up Blue", and all sorts of groups are doing activities to get the message out there by making anything and everything they can blue. In an awesome display of the sort of solidarity I've talked about here before, the nail community is getting together to do a couple of really great things to contribute to the cause.
First up there is an awareness campaign being co-ordinated from Facebook where people both in and out of the nail community are painting their nails blue for today, this week, or the whole month if they can, in order to bring attention to autism and the challenges facing people with autism. There are some really touching, and some really rage making stories being shared there, mostly from the point of view of parents trying to support their children in a culture that isn't particularly interested in making room for people who work differently. This group is also organising an upcoming charity auction, where several indie polish makers are donating a custom polish, and the proceeds are all going to ASPECT, a fantastic Australian autism support organisation. They offer an enormous change of services to the autistic community, as well as their parents and carers, including diagnostic assessments, early intervention programs, and a network of autism specific schools and satellite classes. From what I've heard, they're doing some amazing work, and I'll be keeping an eye out for details of the this auction supporting them as they're released.
On a smaller scale, but also on a beautifully personal level, the owner of Loki's Lacquer is holding a blue nails competition on the Loki's Lacquer Facebook page all this month. The winner will get a custom polish of their choosing from Loki's Lacquer, and the winner will be chosen by her daughter, who has ASD and has inspired her Mum to get so involved in this cause.
Finally, there are a ton of Instagram tags being used to tag blue manicures for autism awareness. #bluenailsforautism, #autismawarenessmonth,#paintitblue and #lightitupblue are all in use currently, and I'll be making an effort to add as many blue manicures as I can to the pile over the coming month.
But in the meantime, here is my initial effort; Elevation Polish in Azure Caverns, with Alanna Renee Pacific layered over the top.