Autism awareness and autism acceptance come from two very different mindsets. Awareness is easy, while acceptance and appreciation demand concerted work. We need to make a shift from awareness to acceptance, appreciation, inclusion, and empowerment.
Autism awareness and the campaigns often associated with it tend to end up perpetuating stigma and a sense of fear against autistic people, encouraging neurotypical people to conjure up ways to seemingly try to get us to pass as non-autistic. Awareness is guided by stereotypes and presents autistic people as puzzles to be solved, urgently and with alarm.
Acceptance and appreciation are derived from a place of understanding autistic people as whole beings. They necessitate that people confront any discomfort or prejudice they may have in relation to autistic people, and then take the next step to consciously try to address and conquer that discomfort.
Autism Acceptance & Appreciation:
- Celebrate autistic culture and say that we are valuable exactly as we are
- Say that autistic ways of being are valid and should be embraced
- Focus on autistic voices and place autistic people at the center of conversations that involve us
- Acknowledge that autism is a part of human diversity and highlight the strengths inherent in that diversity
- Mean collaborating with autistic people and helping us to find the supports that will work best for us, instead of trying to fix us
- Lead to stronger and more inclusive communities