Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that affects an estimated 1 in 36 (CDC, 2020) children in the United States. While awareness about ASD has significantly increased over the past few decades, there is a growing recognition that awareness is not enough. Rather, what is needed is autism acceptance, a movement that prioritizes autonomy, understanding, and advocacy for individuals with autism and their families. Autism Acceptance Month serves as a great reminder for us to encourage a caring, more inclusive community. This month is an opportunity to recognize the autistic community and their voices.
At Action, we use the term “acceptance” when celebrating this month. Autism acceptance refers to the idea that autistic individuals be accepted and valued for who they are, rather than being seen for their differences. While we will always work to spread awareness, accepting autistic individuals requires us to connect personally and learn. Instead of seeking to change autistic individuals, acceptance encourages us to listen to and center the experiences and voices of autistic individuals. At ABC, we value neurodiversity and believe in the beauty of diverse perspectives.
Different, Not Less
Temple Grandin, renowned neurodivergent activist, authored “Different, Not Less”: a non-fiction book detailing inspiring stories of achievement and successful employment from adults with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD. Each of these stories illustrates how the neurodivergent community can achieve incredible things. Too often, traditional awareness campaigns focus on the deficits and challenges associated with autism, rather than the unique talents and abilities that autistic individuals may possess. Autism acceptance recognizes that autistic individuals have unique strengths, talents, and perspectives to offer. It creates a culture that respects and values the differences associated with autism.
“Not A Disability, A Different Ability”
This phrase describes how autistic individuals can go on to achieve their dreams and aspirations, even with additional support and interventions that neurotypical children do not require. Some autistic individuals have strengths unique to their diagnosis, including but not limited to, exceptional memory, strong attention to detail, expert knowledge on areas of interest, and pattern recognition. Every autistic individual is unique –there is no “one size fits all” approach that will serve the needs of every individual. Acceptance requires us to look further and determine which accommodations and resources will suit the needs of each individual. Acceptance means listening and appreciating the beauty of individuals with autism. This includes promoting understanding and awareness of autism, challenging negative stereotypes and attitudes, and advocating for the autonomy of autistic individuals. Acceptance means educating and providing accommodations to develop a strong support system.
Accepting and embracing diversity helps create a more cohesive society that values and respects the contributions and potential of every individual. It also reduces negative attitudes and stereotypes towards people with autism that can lead to discrimination and exclusion. Acceptance creates a culture that improves outcomes in education, employment, and social relationships. By promoting autism acceptance, we can help to reduce stigma and improve access to support and resources for autistic individuals and their families. Through education, understanding, and acceptance, we can create a more inclusive and welcoming world for all individuals.
Awareness is not enough. Together, let’s celebrate the beauty of autism - this month and every day.
At Action Behavior Centers - ABA Therapy for Autism, we strive to provide compassionate care for children on the autism spectrum. We believe that early Intervention can be a great foundation in building a brighter future with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. ABC is committed to getting your child started as soon as possible because every moment counts.