Did you know? April is officially Autism Acceptance Month!
(It’s ok, I didn’t know either until this year. Really the only month I ever remember is Black History Month in February.)
But this year I plan to do something about it! (Not sure exactly what yet, in the offline world, although Chris Bonello of Autistic Not Weird has some good ideas here.)
You may have heard some of the larger autism groups promoting April as Autism Awareness Month, and as a result wonder why I am using the word “Acceptance” instead.
It is because when I search for “vocal stimming” to find out what forms it takes and how it feels to those who do it (since I do not share this aspect of Rondel’s behavior), the entire first page of search results is geared towards how to make the stimming behavior stop.
It is because the majority of websites that refer to stimming, outside of autism advocacy pages, do so in an incredibly depersonalizing way, discounting the significance of the behavior to the autistic individual and seeing only the oddity of the action in a neurotypical world.
It is because most people have already heard the word autism and know that rates of diagnosis are increasing. The “Awareness” part of the job has already been done!
It is because no amount of “services”, supports, or therapies for autistic children will be sufficient in the long run if society isn’t able to reshape itself to accommodate the autistic way of being – those children all grow up to be adults, after all.
It is because the neurotypical world will lose out on all the beauty, humor, and insight that can come from a different way of looking at things if it keeps trying to fit everyone into a single narrow acceptable mold.
It is because, one day, I hope that every child and every adult will have the freedom to be different – to be openly and proudly autistic, ADD, introverted, extroverted, etc. – without inviting bias or feeling shame.
And after all, autism does not involve a breach of the moral code. There are no objections I can think of to the existence and self-expression of autistic people besides the differences that may make neurotypicals uncomfortable or inconvenienced. Maybe if the neurotypical world could meet the autistic world with genuine acceptance and unconditional love (autists already bend their whole lives around neurotypical systems, after all), the two could create a greater whole.