Why Autism Acceptance Is So Important | Autism Awareness Month 2017

why autism acceptance is so important

April is known as Autism Awareness Month, but for some people, it goes by another name—‘Autism Acceptance Month’. Some people believe April is about much more than making people aware of what autism is.

When 95.5% of people in England are already aware of autism, it’s easy to see why acceptance is the next hurdle. I was able to explain autism in one blog post last year, but acceptance is a much bigger commitment. It’s one thing to acknowledge the existence of a disability, but it’s a completely different thing to accept it.

So…What Does Acceptance Mean?

Acceptance is the step that comes after learning that a condition exists. At least, that’s how it should work. It takes far more effort to accept something than just becoming aware of it, and some people struggle to make that step. Overall, though, it’s about taking what you know and accepting the condition as it comes as part of the wider society.

Unlike awareness, which is raised more and more through mainstream media in recent years, acceptance is a choice. It involves embracing differences without trying to change the person to conform to an individual’s own view of normality.

Why Is Acceptance Important?

Acceptance is important because autistic people were historically viewed as burdens. For a long time, we were institutionalised away from the wider society, our behaviours punished through unthinkable means. Acceptance means visibility and breaking down the stigma associated with autism once and for all.

Acceptance is important in raising the self-esteem of autistic children. Why should they be told their behaviours are wrong, or unnatural because their condition means they are a minority? By accepting autism, we are telling them they can be proud of their disability from a young age. They don’t need to be ashamed because they aren’t neurotypical, and others should not put this upon them.

Acceptance is important because putting children through abusive therapy’s should never be okay. Autistic adults have come out in recent years to reveal the devastating consequences that ABA has had on their mental health. Even people who previously worked as ABA therapists have admitted it was abuse. You can read one woman’s story here.

(Disclaimer: This does not apply to therapy like speech therapy, which I myself received as a child.)

Acceptance is important because autistic people don’t need a cure. We need tolerance, an understanding that we are different, not less. The inventor of ABA claims he can cure autism, but how is that possible when the cause of this condition is still unknown?

The truth is, autistic people aren’t puzzle pieces. Our brains do not have something missing from them; they are simply wired differently. Autistic people do not exist for neurotypical people to experiment on.

We need acceptance because autistic people should not be scared of doing things neurotypical people do without a second thought. Autistic people should not worry about being pulled off of planes for our behaviour, or told to leave shopping centres. I’ve seen so many worries from autistic people in the communities I am a part of about them being worried of being excluded because of behaviour their body naturally tells them to do.

Autism Acceptance Has Started!

In recent years, businesses have listened more and more to suggestions made by autistic people and those close to us. There is so much more than needs to be done, but this is a step in the right direction.

Some supermarkets have quiet hours so autistic people can avoid sensory overload from bright lights and loud music. This is inclusion, as we are able to carry out the same activities as non-autistic people without suffering.

An Irish airport recently opened a sensory room for people with special needs, and has encouraged other airports to do the same. I’ve never been in an airport myself, but I’ve heard from others that this can be a very overwhelming environment.


 

Thanks for reading my latest blog post, and until next Saturday,

Goodbye.

PS: If you want to keep up with my latest posts, be sure to follow my Facebook Page, Twitter, or Instagram.

 

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34 Comments

  1. Joanna

    15/04/2017 at 9:30 PM

    Hi Rebekah!
    You make some really compelling points about why acceptance is so important. I completely agree that it is a choice. It’s hard to understand autism if you’ve never been impacted by it, but even so we can all make a choice to practice tolerance. Very insightful, thank you for your post 🙂

    -Joanna

    1. RebekahG

      15/04/2017 at 11:46 PM

      Yeah, it definitely is difficult if you aren’t autistic yourself, but practicing tolerance is so important. Thanks for reading, Joanna.

  2. realmofvibes

    15/04/2017 at 11:02 PM

    I am curious to hear your thoughts on physical, occupational, and speech therapy…

    1. RebekahG

      15/04/2017 at 11:52 PM

      Like I mentioned in the disclaimer below that paragraph, I’m 100% in support of therapies which support people–as speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy do.
      I received speech therapy myself in 2004 when I was 6 years old. I thought it was for a lisp, but my mum recently correct me and told me it was because I didn’t talk very much. I wasn’t diagnosed at the time, but I think that autism could’ve been a factor. I’m not sure if it worked–my mum stopped me going because there were people ‘much worse off’ and she didn’t want to use up resources–but speech therapy definitely has major positives.
      I haven’t received input from physical or occupational therapy myself but I have looked into them as part of my college course, and they both support people to carry out everyday tasks/deal with pain/injury which can only be a positive thing.
      My major problem with ABA is the way they stop behaviours natural to autistic people by, in some cases, restraining hands and legs, or using phrases like ‘quiet hands’. My main stims at the moment are flapping and shaking my legs–people get frustrated by them, but I NEED to do it. The way people get autistic children to conform, if not by physical intervening, is by taking away their favourite things and only allowing them within sessions, when someone complies with instructions which cause an individual to go against what their brain naturally tells them to do.
      Sorry this comment is so long. I hope it helps to clear things up for you. I’m definitely in support of anything that helps an individual to live as the best version of themselves as long as it’s supportive and not abusive, and always in the best intention of the service user. 🙂

      EDIT: I realise you might have left this for the Q&A. If that was the case, sorry. It’s quite a long answer, though, so I hope you don’t mind. 🙂

  3. Courtney

    15/04/2017 at 11:25 PM

    Love to see positive voices around special needs!

  4. Brooke

    15/04/2017 at 11:50 PM

    I loved reading this. I have people close to me that are autistic and I feel they are misunderstood. They are like the rest of us and deserve acceptance.

    1. RebekahG

      15/04/2017 at 11:56 PM

      Thank you! I like to say that autistic people are just as diverse as neurotypical people. We are definitely misunderstood thanks to stigma and stereotypes, something I’ve written about on my blog previously. I’m glad you agree with the stance on acceptance!

      1. Lily Ugbaja

        16/04/2017 at 2:54 AM

        Hi Becca,

        It’s amazing what autistic people can achieve with the right support system in place. Like you’ve pointed out, people know about it (sort of like in the way everyone knows about the major religions of the world) but it’s not real to them, there is no real understanding of the condition. In Africa, autism equals imbecility, how crude.

        1. RebekahG

          16/04/2017 at 4:23 PM

          Yeah, I definitely agree! I’ve watched a few documentaries about how autism and other disabilities are viewed in other parts of the world and it seems like some countries/continents still have some catching up to do. Hopefully the work of the autistic communities reaches these countries sooner rather than later so people don’t have to suffer in silence forever. Disabled people are different, not less. 🙂

  5. armidasworld.com

    16/04/2017 at 2:44 AM

    Being the parent of an autistic child, this article hit home. Thank you for writing it and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    1. RebekahG

      16/04/2017 at 4:18 PM

      Thank you. There’s been a lot of conversation about it in the autistic community this month, and I know I couldn’t just ignore it, especially when it’s something I’m so passionate about. I’ve written several posts about autism in the last couple of years, which you can find by looking in the categories menu at the top, if you’re interested in reading anything else I’ve written. 🙂

  6. tianamccullough

    16/04/2017 at 4:34 AM

    This hit a soft spot because my brother is autistic and growing up, people used to stare at him and it would set my heart ablaze. My mom is an autism advocate and she helped in the governments decisions on one of the cases for autism. I forgot what it was. She continues to fight for him and so do we!

    1. RebekahG

      16/04/2017 at 4:24 PM

      Yeah! I’ve definitely had a few stares in my lifetime, as has my brother, who is also autistic. That’s so great that your mum feels so passionate about autism that she’s willing to help and push the government into action! 🙂

      1. tianamccullough

        17/04/2017 at 7:24 PM

        She’ll do whatever it takes to help the elderly and disabled

  7. Sophia Whitham

    16/04/2017 at 10:59 AM

    I’m still learning acceptance but I don’t think it comes over night. My twin brother was diagnosed at 22 just a few months ago, and it’s been a whirlwind journey. On the one had it explains so much about our childhood and why we were so different but on the other I feel like we are having to learn who he is all over again xx

    Sophia xx

    1. RebekahG

      16/04/2017 at 4:28 PM

      It definitely doesn’t come overnight–practicing tolerance is definitely the best thing to do when a diagnosis like this comes so late.
      Have you spoken to your brother about the way you feel? I can’t speak for him, but I know when I received my diagnosis I felt like my identity had been stripped from me and I had to learn who I was all over again too, so you might be feeling similar things about it. I was diagnosed in September 2015 so it’s been about a year and a half now, and things have definitely gotten easier–for me, and my family. It’s very much an adjustment period at first.
      I’ve written a guest post about late diagnosis’ which you might find helpful, which you can read here, and a blog post a year after my diagnosis, which you can read here. They might help you to understand the process more/realise it’s not going to be confusing forever. 🙂

  8. abbeylouisarose

    16/04/2017 at 7:18 PM

    Another fantastic post, Rebekah! You are completely right, everyone’s brains are wired differently, everyone is unique, and in some people, this just happens to manifest in autism! It doesn’t mean that someone is a burden or a drain on others just because of how their brain works! Everyone is valuable – it’d be a pretty boring world if everybody worked in the same way!

    Abbey 😘 http://www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

    1. RebekahG

      16/04/2017 at 8:46 PM

      Thank you! Wouldn’t it just? I couldn’t imagine a world without autistic people–and I’m glad!

      1. Robin McMahon

        17/04/2017 at 7:46 PM

        Hey!
        Great article! Autism is such a touchy subject for those who are unaware of how it affects certain aspects of life. I’m a photographer and I photograph a few families that their children have autism. Nothing makes me happier than being able to work with these families to capture real honest moments in their lives that they will treasure forever. They say that they have problems with other photographers, but we strive to make it as accommodating as possible while still being all about fun!

        1. RebekahG

          23/04/2017 at 12:00 PM

          I completely agree with what you’ve said. People seem almost scared of the word. Trust me, it won’t hurt you. 😉
          That’s so cool that you’re willing to accommodate your services to meet the needs of others!

  9. Corinne & Kirsty 🌸 (@corinnekirsty)

    16/04/2017 at 7:47 PM

    This was a really good post! I don’t know anybody who has autism but this helped a lot to understand what they go through and what should b e done to help them. THanks for sharing! xx corinne

  10. altspeaking

    16/04/2017 at 8:33 PM

    Beautiful post and so true! I have had the opportunity to teach a couple kids now who are on the autism spectrum and have had to learn a lot about adapting to having them in my music class! I feel like I learned as much if not more from them than they could have ever learned from me!

    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca/

    1. RebekahG

      23/04/2017 at 11:59 AM

      Well you never know… us autistic people mimic others all the time! I’m sure they’re learning your kindness by being willing to adapt services to meet their needs, too. 🙂

      1. altspeaking

        23/04/2017 at 2:11 PM

        They are such amazing kids, love each and every one of them regardless of whether they are on the autism spectrum, have ADD (like me), have no learning disabilities, have behavioural issues (we have had a few of those, but its amazing how music can speak to them and help them to find themselves as well) etc 🙂 Music speaks to everyone!

        1. RebekahG

          23/04/2017 at 11:15 PM

          Yes, music is definitely a great tool at getting people out of their shell and getting them to open up in a more productive way. I used to love music (specifically instruments) when I was younger, but I haven’t played anything for a number of years now. It’s a shame, really. I’m glad you’ve found a way of adapting things, though!

          1. altspeaking

            23/04/2017 at 11:24 PM

            Music is my love – I have been blessed to get this job as an instructor with the group… While I don’t get to do music as my fulltime job, its still in my life.

  11. Charydee

    17/04/2017 at 9:42 PM

    Thank you for this post! This is a must-read post, spreading awareness about autism is very important because people who hasn’t gone through it doesn’t know how it is like. I love your blog btw ❤

    1. RebekahG

      23/04/2017 at 12:00 PM

      Thank you so much!

      And thank you, haha. It’s still a work in process but I’m glad you like it. 🙂

  12. Melissa 🌱 (@fruity_flamingo)

    18/04/2017 at 1:04 PM

    I totally agree, they needs to be more acceptance! My brother has autism and some people don’t understand him and it’s upsetting

    1. RebekahG

      23/04/2017 at 12:01 PM

      I can definitely understand how that can happen. It can be frustrating, too, when people want you to do something and you can’t or it’s difficult for you and they don’t understand why. It’s something people definitely need to be more understanding about.

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