I feel a little like I’m writing my first essay of the new school year (What I did last summer was…). Challenging myself to at least try to write daily was a bold move, and I’m only three days into it looking at the rest of the days and wondering how on earth I’m going to pull this off.
But I’m going to try. And that’s an important word for this post.
To me, autism acceptance means:
- Knowing that I’m trying my best and accepting me knowing that I might not succeed. I don’t just mean that as a message for the outside world, it’s a message that I need to give myself, whether it’s about me or about my kids. They’re doing the best they can, and that’s okay.
- Knowing that if I am having a particularly stimmy day, or if my kids are having a stimmy day, that people around us will understand what that means and will do what they can to support us. Of course sometimes that may mean asking whether the stim is a self-regulating stim or an expression of joy… but for me personally it is usually a need for self-regulation. I’m okay with that and you can be too.
- That people will try not to be put off by my difficulty with gauging personal space or the loudness of my voice. I am working on being aware of it myself, and sometimes I’ll even comment aloud on it. I try to laugh about it, but you need to be aware that I am actually embarrassed. Acceptance in this situation means telling me it’s okay and that you know I’m working on it. (I’ll still be anxious about it, but you can’t really fix that- that’s okay)
- Knowing that if I’m in full panic mode or if one of my kids is struggling in public, people won’t stare, and might even ask if there is anything they can do to assist. Trying to help is not always easy, but it is an important step.
- That people will try to let go of the whole eye contact thing- not just for me but for everyone. It’s not helpful. Just move off that, please. If you work with my kids and I hear those words, you’ll hear from me on it. WORDS DO NOT COME FROM YOUR EYES. Let me watch your mouth and leave me be. It’s really okay to leave behind old ways of thinking.
- That however people communicate, whether through spoken words, PECS, a communication app, will be absolutely accepted, supported, and understood. Humans as a species have a lot to share with the world. Just because some people don’t open their mouths and speak verbally does NOT mean that they don’t communicate. If people aren’t given tools to communicate, they are being prevented a basic right of humanity. Give people communication tools and patience. (By the way, some people use multiple forms, and that’s okay too!)
I am sure that I could come up with more, but these are what my 5am brain is producing right now! That’s alright- I know that you have some too, and would love to hear from you about what autism acceptance means for you!