In 2015, I endeavored to write a series of posts called Autism A to Z. One of those posts was written about autism acceptance. This post was created out of a frustration around autism awareness month and autism awareness day. I wondered- why. Why are we limiting this to just awareness? Why are people stopping at just creating awareness? I wish and strive for autism acceptance. Now more than ever. Beyond autism awareness and instead autism acceptance.
Why is Autism Acceptance Important?
April is Autism Awareness Month.
But I want it to be so much more than just awareness. I wish for autism acceptance and understanding.
But how do we get to a point of autism acceptance and understanding? By continuing to raise awareness, by educating, and by fostering an element of tolerance. Understanding and acceptance goes beyond awareness and tolerance, but I believe that it is entirely possible.
Autism acceptance is taking it one step further and going beyond just raising awareness. Autism acceptance, for me, means working towards inclusion.
Autism Acceptance vs. Autism Awareness
In a world where autism is on the rise, for whatever reasons or another, autism acceptance and understanding will soon become necessary. Yes, having awareness and being able to recognize the signs and how to support individuals and their families is great. I appreciate it. But, having acceptance and understanding for autism will make a huge difference.
For example, do you know what you can do for a parent of a child with autism?
That’s only a small list and a small start but it could make a huge difference.
And, for that matter, it’s not really any different than what you would do for a parent of a non-special needs child.
Raising awareness and increasing acceptance- not only for individuals with autism but for all individuals with special needs is something that I dream of seeing in my lifetime.
But will it happen?
What is Autism Acceptance?
With organizations like the National Autism Association, and the Autism Society of America along with initiatives like End the R-Word, I would hope that someday discrimination against those with disabilities will come to an end.
That maybe someday, individuals with autism and other related disabilities won’t be judged by how they outwardly behave. That they’ll be valued just as much as any member of society.
Because that’s what they are.
Autism only defines a part of who they are but it does not, and should never, entirely define who a person is. Autism, for our family, has put a label on things that I didn’t understand before. It helps me to get what I need for my daughter but autism is not and will never be everything that she is. Sweet B is far more than her autism- as are all individuals with autism or any disability.
To me, autism acceptance means looking past the disability.
It means looking past the labels.
It means valuing individuals for what they can do instead of what they can’t do.
It means valuing strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses.
It means changing the world around us, instead of trying to change my daughter for the world.