Awareness – how about acceptance? Fri 1st May 2015

By | May 1, 2015

April is over, the end of Autism Awareness month for another (nearly) year.  

For those who live with/care for/teach someone within the autistic spectrum, awareness is never ending.  D was diagnosed at 4.5 and she’s nearly 11, I will never know enough about how her (or T’s mind) works.  I’m very good at second-guessing but there are occasions when I’m completely thrown and that is over six years now, living with autism (and before that), 24/7.

For me, awareness is all well and good, but how about acceptance? Acceptance that first impressions may not convey the true tale of exactly what is happening?

Here’s two scenarios:

1.  A mum is walking along with her toddler son.  She says to him “Xxx, keep next to me and we’ll go and get some sweets”.  All well and good until you hear … “Xxx, f**king come here, now!”

2.  You’re in a supermarket, a young adult is walking around with headphones on, arm in arm with another adult.  The young adult is groaning and the other adult is reassuring them, that they won’t be long, that they’ll take it slowly, that they’re doing really well.

Who will get the most looks and judgemental stares?  Invariably scenario number 2 because they’re likely to be around for longer in people’s sight.  We’ve all heard people swearing at their children and once the shock factor is over, they’re long gone, unfortunately that child will go on to use those words in nursery/soft play/park because they are used as part of his/her everyday life.  

Acceptance of autism requires looking beyond your initial thoughts, accessing the whole situation and not just your first thoughts of “why is that young adult moaning? It’s a racket”.

Because that’s what I would like, acceptance that my (different in some ways but so similar in others) children have autism.  A life-long disability.  They didn’t “ask” for this label, it’s not down to me being too young/old/having a cold when pregnant/having a late baby (no)/having a premature baby (no)/smoking (no)/drinking (no)/living near toxic blah blah blah (you get the picture).  

It’s genetics.  We are all on the spectrum somewhere.  We’re human. Each with different traits, likes and dislikes.  Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?  Plodding along without those wonderful people who strived and strived to invent things.  Hey, I’m blogging on my phone because Steve Jobs refused to give up on his dream.

What has really annoyed me in April was seeing this tweet:

The suggestion that someone “so clearly on the spectrum” cannot be a high achiever.  Why not?  I know there is such a thing as “free speech” but to openly mock a whole community with the aim of getting a few retweets, column inches and therefore a bit more exposure (and no doubt £££) is insulting.

How about we accept people for themselves? Not make a cheap joke about the fact that they may not hold eye contact continuously or stand ackwardly? Some people don’t.  Others excel at getting their viewpoint across.  We’re all different.

My concern about the screengrab above is that this columnist has a heck of a lot of people who seem to agree with her, also a weekly newspaper column, no doubt other arenas to spout her (really quite nasty) views. Her migrants comments were another example.

I wouldn’t want the attention this columnist receives, all I want is for autism to be more accepted within Society.  Not just in April, but all the time.  It’s why I started blogging, why I will always challenge decisions made by people who see my children as budget figures and not individuals, why my aim is that they achieve their potential, without prejudice from “columnists” who would happily dismiss them as a lower part of Society.

The challenge continues.  

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