Different Minds, different kinds.
Why autism acceptance is so important.
If you've read any of my other blog posts already, then you’d know I have autism. If you haven’t, then you do now! Autism is considered a psychological disorder of the neurological/behavioral realm. What that basically means is that our minds work differently from the norm. Instead of being “neurotypical”, we do think differently simply because our minds work differently.
Despite the reality that difference is not deficit, society as a whole still views us as mentally incapable. That means that when we don’t fit the given stereotype, we’re often told things like how we aren't actually autistic or that we’re just complaining over nothing. In a sense, if we’re capable of walking and talking, we don’t need help. Now here’s the thing, those of us with autism who do need assistance should definitely get it, whether or not we can walk and/or talk. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals of all walks of life are affected. But whether or not we can contribute to society some great contributions or we need help from that same society, our humanity remains the same nonetheless.
Too often in any movement, we want to glorify our most outstanding members in order to make it seem as if we’re normal. We are normal, but we don’t have to prove to anybody that we’re human beings, they should already know it and accept it. As hard as it is for some to hear that their child has autism or that their friend may never be able to live without assistance possibly for the rest of their life, it’s even more difficult for the individual with autism to feel as if they’re a burden. If you’re a neurotypical, stop and think for a moment how it would be like if you needed others’ help for the rest of your life. What would YOU do? As much self-loathing as could come from such a situation, there’s also the opportunity to help these individuals lead successful lives. Autism is not a diagnosis for the purpose of putting someone with it in a box, it’s one that’s given in order to help such individuals gain accommodations in order to fulfill their potential. My autism diagnosis came with a hopeful note, that I am worth it and that those who disagree can basically screw off!
We need autism acceptance not because there’s nothing wrong with individuals with autism, but because what is wrong can easily be fixed without trying to radically find a “cure” or a “cause” for that matter. We have people like Jenny McCarthy believing that vaccines cause autism while groups like PETA use autism as a ploy to promote their agendas, in the case of PETA, their “Got Autism?” campaign is one that believes that a vegan lifestyle deters such a diagnosis. I’m a vegetarian, not totally vegan yet, but I doubt that going off milk will do anything more than make me spend more money trying to get nutrients in addition to what I’ve already cut off by refusing to eat animals. These perceptions are damaging, not only for kids who, due to their parents’ fears, will have to abide by that same ignorance, but also for individuals — the kids and adults with autism who want to be seen as equals, not a source of fear!
People with autism can contribute to society, directly or indirectly, if their neurotypical counterparts will be patient, kind, and optimistic. Autism acceptance is about two things, awareness of what autism really is in order to deter stereotypes or fear from allowing those with such a diagnosis live up to their potential, and acceptance for those of us who have autism.