World Autism Acceptance Day
I personally don’t call it world autism awareness day because I want more than awareness.
Awareness while acknowledging people might want and need information often also carries an implication of ‘bewareness’. Sometimes phrases abound such as “epidemic”,and “fastest growing” and the dreaded “disorder” word. These phrases don’t actually help Autistics or their families.
What families need is real help, real support, back-up in times of crisis,understanding from their families, friends, and even total strangers. They need access to educational and health supports, they need increased knowledge so they can understand and meet the needs of their Autistic family members.
That is why I personally favour acceptance. We need to accept each other’s differences as part of the diversity of humanity. We need to meet people where they are and offer encouragement and support. Acceptance means embracing and valuing us as we are. It means accepting differences that you may not yet fully understand.
And it shouldn’t stop at children. Autistic children will become autistic adults – and the need for acceptance will continue even if individual support needs change.
This World Autism Acceptance Day we need to:
- Acknowledge autism is a huge part of many families’ lives – especially autistic lives. We can’t pause or separate our autism just because this year NZ is in lockdown. This year in particular places additional challenges on many Autistics and their families. Many families may be facing separation from their Autistic family members who may be flatting, in different cities, or in residential care. This is tough on Autistics and for their families who may not be used to this level of separation.
2.Create greater awareness of the condition but more importantly create awareness of supports and accommodations that make a genuine difference to Autistic lives.We need to highlight areas where funding can make the greatest difference to children and adults – for example in Health, Education, and Employment. Many families and Autistics struggle financially, with other health conditions and many face a lack of educational supports. We need to recognise the extra challenges at this time and the extra anxiety many autistics and their support networks may be experiencing.
- Realise that Autism Acceptance can be the opportunity to build empathy,understanding, and compassion for those of us who are Autistic. So like many Autistics I want acceptance. I want acceptance to include the very real needs of Autistic adults and children – not just the needs of their non-Autistic family members. We need this acceptance to continue long after World Autism Acceptance Day is over, long after World Autism Month is over. It needs to be for our lifetime.