different, not less

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  April is Autism Awareness Month (also, it's National Pecan Month; you're welcome).  I don't want you to just be aware of autism.  I think we've accomplished that.  Everyone is at least peripherally aware of autism.  We've all heard the statistics: 1 in 88 children, 1 in 54 boys.  We all know someone, or know someone who knows someone, whose child has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Frankly, I think being "aware" of autism is easy.  In fact, it would be pretty difficult to be unaware of it.  I think it's time to move past awareness to understanding.

People with autism live in a world that is at best, uncomfortable, and at worst, simply impossible.  It is a world not constructed to meet their specific needs, and more often than not, a world that does not attempt to understand them as an individual, as a person, as more than a diagnosis.

I'm done with Autism Awareness.  I'm ready for Autism Acceptance.  I know that autism is hard.  Really hard.  But I also know it comes with (often) hidden blessings.  Here are just a few.

My Top Three Favorite Things About Autism:

  1. Many people with autism are completely transparent.  No games.  No ambiguity.  Complete and total honesty.   Want to know if you're having a bad hair day? Ask someone with autism.  Or don't ask, they might tell you anyway.
  2. When many people with autism love, it is fiercely loyal.  Whether it is a TV show, a book, a character, a teacher, or a friend--you never lose their love and affection.
  3. People with autism feel completely free to be themselves: you don't like it, they don't care. Authenticity is beautiful.

Understanding, not pity.
Appreciation, not simple awareness.
Different, not less.

1 comment:

  1. As you can imagine, I'm in tears. May I have your permission to send this to the Dispatch for their "First Person" column?


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