This is the final chapter of a month-long analysis about the woes and discoveries of autism. I would highly recommend reading the first two pieces before this one, as they will all come together in the end.
Participant Feature 1: A Trip Through Metaphor Meadows
Participant Feature 2: Why Is Autism Acceptance Important
Earlier this week, I was approached with an interesting question: “Should we call this month Autism Awareness or Autism Acceptance?” I kinda just assumed it was just an innocent hypothesis thrown out to spark discussion, but then I did a little digging. As it turns out, this is a surprisingly recurring topic! If you search for the question in Google images, you’ll get several different diagrams of the pros and cons of each, as well as many articles discussing the topic. I have linked them below, and I highly recommend you check out. In the meantime, I’m going to take the three I’ve listed, and quote a specific line from each one. They are as follows:
- “Awareness is easy. Acceptance requires actual work.” [Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)]
- “Awareness is trying to cure me. Acceptance is not trying to cure me.” [Barrier-Free Blog]
- “Awareness does not imply doing anything different. Acceptance is taking action.” [ASK Advocates for Spectrum Knowledge]
There’s a pattern at play. Not only are these three quotes delivered under the same formula, but digging a little deeper into the authors of these pieces reveals that they all share an autism diagnosis. It’s unknown if this is coincidence or clever collaboration, but the point stands in that there is a common message trying to be spread. But that’s not all… look at some of these publication dates: these were all published years apart from each other; with the first article being published way back in 2012!
So… what gives? Why are we still discussing the same question, and how can we finally come to an answer?
Let me introduce to you: “The Attendance” Theory. (I did not grab this from anywhere; I’m completely making this up as I go, but bear with me.)
This is the theory that, for people who don’t belong in a specific minority group, when it’s time to support said group, there’s a larger importance on the presentation of support rather than the actual support. We can show our colors during June, dump as much ice water on our heads as we please, and remember that we have to remember black history during February as we want, but how much of that is going to help if our rights are still going to be held hostage at the end of the day? As much fun as it is to celebrate and write a social media post about the month to feel good, nothing will change unless we firmly state that anything other than acceptance is inexcusable. You can’t stop a bully by looking passively, but rather by stepping in and actively defending the victim.
This brings us back to our very friend we encountered in the beginning of this series, Lamorn. The Metaphor Meadows is a mysterious and perplexing place with many ways to interpret its events, but let’s view our story as a representation of awareness vs. acceptance: Awareness was happening, but it wasn’t what Lamorn wanted. It was only until we gave a mutual exchange of support and love, that they were able to feel happy and be themselves. This event of acceptance only happened once someone, who was in very many ways the same as Lamorn, had to step out of their own comfort to lend support; they showed the same awareness as everyone else did to Lamorn, but added the extra ingredient of accepted-ness to deliver the message.
Okay, let’s step back for a second. April has been a hectic month for many of us, and there was a lot said in this post. I want to take a second to thank everyone for the little ride we’ve journeyed through during this time. Hopefully you learned a little something, and if not, well, I must have been doing something right to keep you hooked this far.
Until next time!
Madeline is currently a junior at MICC, working towards her Hospitality certificate. Her creativity is as broad and crazy as her curls-- Creating entertaining stories and unique perspectives which become instantly memorable and cherished. Despite her wits and ways of forming words, she is constantly challenging herself by developing new skills and leaving a third eye open to anything that's piqued her curiosity. Whether you find her writing, drawing, music making, golfing, sailing, gaming, programming, or drinking too much Cherry Pepsi, you'll discover a character that you won't find anywhere else!