Acceptance Is (Autism Acceptance Month 2015)
cross-posted on Tumblr
I just re-read the story of Jess Wilson and her daughter Brooke with Brooke's grandfather (Jess's father). How he did not make Brooke give him a hug until she was ready.
(I can understand why parents and relatives want hugs and kisses and touch and verbal affection. It is society's normal, and it is not their fault that everyone expects it).
But acceptance is respect. Acceptance is knowing that even if you want it, an Autistic person's dignity and autonomy and right to choose what kinds of affection to display is more important. Acceptance is knowing that a nonspeaking person doesn't have to say “I love you” out loud to communicate the sentiment.
Some would say acceptance is not fighting to save an Autistic person, accepting defeat. But quack cures and forced exposure to unpleasant, painful stimuli and compliance training will not, because these inverventions can do much harm, and an autistic person does not need to be saved from autism.
(I can understand why a culture that tells us being autistic is wrong can have an impact on people, and the professionals will tell people that 40 hours of ABA is necessary to have an impact).
But I would argue that acceptance is love and love is what nurtures anyone. Acceptance is love and respect. Acceptance should show with people's actions. It's not enough to say you accept someone and then try to change them into someone they are not.
For instance, extinguishing stimming because it's “embarrassing” or forcing them to look you in the face or forcing someone to look in other people's faces would not be acceptance. Some good examples of acceptance include what Brooke's grandfather did, above; actively working to dispel myths about autism; listening to someone's behavior instead of dismissing it; listening to Autistic people and boosting their voices; and working to raise a generation of Autistic people respectfully.
Acceptance is also hoping there will be more generations of autistic people instead of an attempt at preventing us. We should be here. The world would lose part of its diversity without us. And we have a right to exist.