September 12, 2013

Awareness Vs Acceptance

I'm a Linguistics major. I love languages. I love the nuances of semantics. When I went for ASD testing and I told the psychologist what my major was, she said, "interesting!" Not all of us are polyglots and language geeks, but a great many Autistics enjoy the sounds of language and the precision of using the right word at the right time. I don't embellish - I use just enough precise words to get my point across, without any extra hidden meaning. If I say, "some," I really mean "some" and not "all" or "many." Neurotypicals misunderstand often because they don't understand the distinction between the two and have a tendency to infer emotion into things I never said.

All that to say, words and meaning are very important. I am happy to "fight the good fight" when it comes to advocacy, but I want to make sure I am fighting the right fight for me and my fellow Autistics.

One of those fights is the difference between "awareness" and "acceptance." Groups like Autism Speaks are interested in bringing "awareness" to autism, most often in a negative way - the numbers of diagnoses, and research for prevention and cures. They, and many other groups, want to bring awareness to their cause - if only you donate more money, autism can be eradicated!

I don't want to be cured or eradicated, thankyouverymuch, so I'm more interested in fighting for "acceptance."

I'm asking for societal acceptance of people who are different.
I'm asking for societal acceptance of people who think or move differently.
I'm asking for societal acceptance of people who may need assistance to complete daily tasks.
I'm asking for societal acceptance of people who may not speak.
I'm asking for societal acceptance of people who are Autistic.

We don't usually look all that different from you, but we sometimes stick out in odd ways. We may have ticks. We may communicate differently. Regardless, the major point is we're not HURTING anyone.

Feel free to stare, but don't try to change us.
Feel free to be confused, but don't try to cure us.
Feel free to misunderstand at times, but don't try to kill us.

Eventually, hopefully by the time my son is an adult, people won't be staring so much. People will see the person humming to themselves on the bus and not think any ill thoughts. Humming is not dangerous. Flapping is not dangerous. Smiles should not evoke fear in your heart. Spinning is not life-threatening. We are not contagious.

We don't need more awareness. You notice us. You see us everyday. What we need is acceptance.

I have a right on this earth just as much as you do. I choose every day to respect and accept the people around me. Please start accepting us for who we are.

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