This piece is in honor of our very first Autistic History Month 2013!
I began advocating for disability rights a little over a year ago, and for autism acceptance since my kids were born. I didn’t know I was advocating at the time. I was a Mom doing whatever necessary to make sure her kids got what they needed. I was a Mom being a Mom. I was later informed that I was…
A Mom being a Mom being an Advocate.
So, in all this autism advocating I’ve been doing, I must share that I have never once advocated for autism awareness! *gasp*
(I know, right?!!)
What kind of person am I that I wasn’t advocating for awareness? Well, I’m logical, sensible and
When I realized what was going on around me (e.g. my kids and I were Autistic), I jumped immediately into the deep end of the ocean: Acceptance. Why wouldn’t I, right? I had always accepted my kids and myself, so why would a diagnosis change that? The fact is, it didn’t. We were Autistic before we knew we were Autistic and would continue to be so after we learned we were Autistic.
Autism Aware – box checked.
So I was completely confused when I learned that there was this big push to make people aware of autism. I suppose since I was aware, my autistic brain was under the impression everyone else was, too (she tends to think everyone is on her page at all times). My brain aside, I had been hearing about autism awareness for years, well before I had kids. So, if I (a person who does not keep up with current events or even watch the news) knew about these campaigns, couldn’t we comfortably say that we were aware? Instead of pondering the question, I went ahead and used the logical approach:
Skip the awareness and dive head-first into Acceptance! Why, you ask? Because of this:
Awareness – knowing that something exists
Acceptance – the act of accepting something or someone
I feel confident in saying that we are all well aware that autism exists. If you have, however, stumbled upon my blog by accident, check the blogroll to your right. Read through all of them. Once finished, you will most definitely be autism aware. Then you can join me, my family, my Autistic friends and our Allies in
How do you begin the journey to Acceptance? First I ask you to consider your current perceptions of autism. Are they negative? Do you consider autism an illness or a disease?
Do you see Autistic people as victims? Incomplete or broken and in need of ‘fixing’ or, do I dare even whisper… (a cure)?
Because we’re not.
If you do feel this way I ask you to (re)consider who you are receiving this information from. Anyone who speaks of us in this manner is a promoter of the medical model* of disability. It tells you about warning signs, symptoms and red flags. It tells you to be aware, to Beware. And this model is damaging to us because it describes us as damaged.
And we are not.
If you want a different journey, a positive one, I’ll take you – Gladly. Ours will be about seeing autism as a differing neurology, one that experiences feelings, emotions, human interactions and the environment very differently than the Neurotypical (NT). It will be about seeing an Autistic person as someone who is capable when accommodated, supported and included. It’s the social model* of disability and it recognizes us as valuable human beings.
And we are.
*I talked about the medical and social models of disability here
How Do You Know?
Who do you listen to? There are so many professionals, experts, organizations, institutions, activists, advocates, etc… out there. How do you choose? Who is right and who is wrong? I cannot tell you how to think or what to do. That’s up to you. But I can give you some information that might help you make a decision, I know it helped me greatly:
- If one follows organizations that search for a cure
- If one raises money to support organizations that search for a cure
- If one walks, skips, runs and donates time/money to organizations that search for a cure
- Then one does not accept Autistic people
Elimination of a people because of a disability is not acceptance, it’s Extinction.
- If one puts us in therapies to eliminate our autistic characteristics/make us ‘pass’ for neurotypical
- If one makes us hide our Stims (which are so very important and beneficial to our well-being) because they are frowned upon by NTs and considered inappropriate or embarrassing
- If one forces us to make eye contact because it is more comfortable for everyone else
- If one re-directs us from, or tries to eliminate our special interests because one feels they are obsessive, pointless wastes of time
- Then one does not accept Autistic people
Forcing change that does not benefit us, but that is designed to make society more comfortable around us is not acceptance, it’s Reprogramming.
Neither my children, nor I, experience difficulties being Autistic. However, time and again, we encounter people and environments unwilling to support, accommodate or include us, thereby causing great difficulty because
We Are Not Accepted
If you want information about autism (as a ‘disorder’) consult a professional. If you want to learn about an Autistic Life from the experts…
Ask an Autistic
Accepting autism is a concept of entirety. It’s not about picking and choosing. I’ve heard people say they love their child but hate their child’s autism. I hate hearing that, it makes me sad. Autism isn’t something we have. We are Autistic. I would hate to think that my Mom looks at me and thinks:
“God, I would love Renée completely if it weren’t for that darned autism.”
Autism is not separate from me. It is not separate from my children. And it’s not a medical condition that can be cured. Autism is a differing neurology from what is considered ‘typical’ or neurotypical. We are born this way. It is a part of us like gender and skin color.
So, if you weren’t aware of autism before you got here, between my posts and my blogroll, you are now officially autism aware. YaY!! Have you got it? Good! Now…
A C C E P T I T !
you know you want to