Saturday, April 1, 2017

Autism Acceptance: A Primer

Hello, and welcome to my newly-opened blog, Life (Un)Worthy of Life!

If you've taken the time to visit the About The Blog page, you'll have noticed that the usual posting schedule I'll be following on this blog is one post per week, with posts typically being published every Saturday at 12:00 noon, central time.  This month, however, I will be publishing a new post every day, in honor of Autism Acceptance Month, which spans from April 1st to April 30th.  Today's post, Autism Acceptance: A Primer, will aim to introduce and define the concept of Autism acceptance, which should minimize the level of confusion people experience in regard to the following Autism Acceptance Month posts.

So, what, you might be wondering, is Autism acceptance?
Simply put, Autism acceptance is the phrase used to describe the action of accepting Autistics as whole people, and not treating us as puzzles needing to be solved or broken things needing to be fixed.  It is in direct opposition to the actions of attempting to "cure" Autism and/or supporting attempts to "cure" Autism, making it impossible to both support the idea of "curing" Autism and practice Autism acceptance.  Not everyone understands that last bit, which is why, unfortunately, anti-Autism/anti-Autistic endeavors sometimes get tagged with #AutismAcceptance on social media.

Here are some ways to practice Autism acceptance:

  • Listen to Autistic people.
    • This one should be obvious, but for some reason it doesn't seem to be.  Autistic people are the only real experts on the subject of Autism, so listen to us when we talk about how our brains work and what is and isn't helpful for us.  
  • Presume competence.  
    • Autistics, as a group, are not inherently incapable of doing anything that non-Autistic people can do.  Do not assume we are helpless just because our minds work differently from yours.  Give us opportunities to try new things, even if you aren't sure that we'll succeed.
  • Default to identity first language.
    • Most members of the Autistic community prefer to be referred to using identity first language (ie: Autistic person) rather than person first language (ie: person with Autism), and it's important to respect that preference by defaulting to identity first language when you're not referring to an individual who has specifically requested to be referred to using person first language.
  • Don't support anti-Autism/anti-Autistic organizations.
    • Some of the world's most well-known, most popular Autism-related organizations are organizations that do not respect Autistic people's right to exist.  Boycott these organizations.  Autistic people shouldn't have to put up with being represented and spoken over by organizations that view our existence as a tragedy.
  • Ditch the puzzle pieces.
  • Go #RedInstead.
    • The "Light It Up Blue" campaign is a negative, anti-Autism/anti-Autistic campaign which was started by an organization that many Autistics view as a hate group.  I'll address this further in tomorrow's post, but for now, please look into the #RedInstead campaign and Tone It Down Taupe, both of which are wonderful alternatives to "Light It Up Blue."
That was by no means a comprehensive list of all the ways to practice Autism acceptance, but hopefully it serves as a helpful starting point for those who are new to the concept.  We all have to start somewhere, and if you make an effort to do the things listed above then you'll probably be on the right track.  Just remember to keep up the effort until practicing Autism acceptance becomes natural, and don't be afraid to accept criticism and learn from your mistakes.

Stick around for more Autistic-written, Autism-related content, and feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.  Thanks for stopping by!

Image Description:  The words "Autism Acceptance: A Primer" are printed in sketchy letters on a semi-transparent white square that's centered on a background of multi-colored flowers.

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