contributed by Abby Dreith
Happy Autism Acceptance Month!
Every year on April 2, we celebrate autistic people all over the world and recognize them for their achievements. It was only three years ago when I began to understand autism and started the journey to my diagnosis. Although the month of April and the day of April 2 are known as Autism Awareness Month/Day, I am pretty sure by now that most folks are aware of autism, and I think we should go further and value people with autism for what they contribute.
The idea of autism acceptance is not only self-education, but also self-(un)education. A lot of people don’t understand that autism doesn’t go away when you’re an adult. When it comes to learning about a different neurotype, there is systemic ableism that hinders autistic people from achieving success thus placing a negative value on our mannerisms and interests. Although autism research is still relatively new, autistic people have always been a part of society. It is imperative we listen to autistic voices; adapt the world we know and love to suit them; and provide those of us with autism equal opportunity for success and happiness.
Autism acceptance can be achievable from big things (such as educating peers about the harm of the r-word and protecting autistic rights) to the little things (like combatting microaggressions and understanding autism symptoms).
People with autism represent a wide array of strengths and challenges. I have had people say to me “You can’t be autistic. You’re actually intelligent.” Many of my friends have asked me to learn more about autism and how it is a part of making me who I am. I’m thankful for people who choose to work with people with autism, and I encourage everyone to keep listening to us and making sure we have a voice.
More information about autism services at Easterseals Crossroads