Wear #RedInstead on Autism Acceptance Day

Reasons to Wear #RedInstead on April 2nd

If you want to show solidarity or support of individuals on the spectrum on World Autism Day, don’t “light it up blue,” wear #RedInstead. Why? The simplest reason is because that’s what #ActuallyAutistic people are asking you to do. Here is why they are trying to change the symbolism of autism advocacy:

  1. ‘Light it up Blue’ is a slogan and advocacy symbol used by Autism Speaks, an organization notoriously condemned by Autistic adults due to their historical emphasis on a cure, the disproportionate funds allocated to research and marketing vs. helping autistic individuals and their families throughout their lifespans, and it’s lack of autistic leadership.
  2. Blue is typically understood to be a symbol of loss, grief, and despair. Not surprisingly, many autistics prefer to be associated with a color that symbolizes fire, passion, and heart.
  3. Some Autistic adults point out that the color blue perpetuates the stereotype that boys are much more likely to be on the spectrum. There is much debate about the validity of these statistics since the diagnostic criteria may have been written to fit with male behavior, and girls may be more “successful” at masking Autistic symptoms.
  4. Autism awareness isn’t really necessary anymore. Sometimes neurotypical advocacy efforts end up being viewed by the Autistic community as parents looking to wear a badge for knowing someone with autism. Most people already know Autism exists. Autism Acceptance…now that’s something to advocate for. That’s what #RedInstead represents.

Imagine someone wearing a blue puzzle piece t-shirt on World Autism Day. Maybe someone recognizes the symbol and asks that person, “Do you know someone with autism?” Maybe the conversation launches into something about how the person has a child on the spectrum, how they have endured all sorts of therapies and diets, and how life is hard, but they’ll do anything for their child.

Imagine someone else wearing a #RedInstead t-shirt on World Autism Day. How might that conversation go? I can imagine something like:

“What does #RedInstead mean?”

“It’s in support of the Autistic community. Today is World Autism Day.”

“Oh! I thought blue represented autism?”

“Actually blue is a color that was originally chosen by non-autistic people to represent autism. Many people from the Autistic community actually prefer to wear red today, in an effort to support autism Acceptance, rather than mere awareness.”

Perhaps the conversation continues to discuss neurodiversity or refer the NT to the Autism Acceptance Month website for further reading. The point is that #RedInstead and autism acceptance is something worth advocating for. And any NT advocacy efforts along these lines call attention to the Autistic community and their desires rather than emphasizing the parent’s narrative.

Places to Buy Red Gear

Red#Instead gear on Amazon

Red#Instead gear on Redbubble

Neurodiversity gear on Teepublic

Neurodiversity gear on Zazzle

Articles by Autistic People About This Topic

5 Shocking Reasons NOT to Light It Up Blue

This April Go #RedInstead for Autism Acceptance!

“Light It Up Blue” is Bad. This is Why You Shouldn’t Buy in to the Blue or the Puzzle

About #WalkinRed

Autism Doesn’t Make Me Blue: How to Support Autistic People This April

What is World Autism Awareness Day?

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  1. Reply

    Autism Speaks deals in fake news. They associate themselves with aversion therapy. They play the part so well with their professional sites and their attractive dialogue, but they’re are bottom feeders. They are the devil in sheep’s clothing. All of my autistic brothers and sisters stand strong and do not associate with this organization. Go RedInstead. We, as a people, are learning to express our own thoughts and words. Learn from autistics, damn straight. We are beautiful, unique, brilliant, funny, we can hyper-focus, and we have empathy and that barely scratches the surface of our abilities. Our perspective and thought process is different and we can change the world. We already have. We are survivors and I am proud of my autism. Autism always finds a way. I love and support my autistic brothers and sisters, love Michael.

  2. Carolyn Scott


    I have a 10 year daughter have Autism she very Smart and observe everything ❤

  3. Peter Coogan


    Yeah, no. Gold infinity symbol. Red has no meaning here. Blue had negative meanings (e.g., autism is for boys). But red has no meaning. Someone here should have done some work. Red already has many associations, for example, AIDS, which makes sense bc AIDS can be transmitted by blood transfusion. But what metaphoric or symbolic meaning does red have? None. Gold, though, works for AU, and as for myself, being autistic is worth money (gold) bc it enables me to do my job better and it enables me to recruit clients, who genuinely are more interested in hiring me to edit their dissertations once they learn I am autistic.

    Bad choice. Try again.

    • Jenna


      Hi Peter, thanks for your comment! Do you think the #RedInstead movement is outdated? I’m aware of the rainbow infinity symbol and I’ve also seen the gold one. I appreciate your explanation of the gold symbolism here. That makes sense.

  4. Finn


    Young adult with autism here: The idea that autism awareness isn’t necessary anymore is ridiculous. The amount of people that I meet every day who are misinformed about autism, especially in the “neurodiversity” community, proves that. There can’t be autism acceptance without autism awareness, autism education, and autism research. I won’t be doing red because the autism acceptance movement, as it exists today in online spaces, is fundamentally flawed and hurts people on all ends of the spectrum.

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