Awareness Versus Acceptance

Today is Autism Awareness Day.

Since I obviously turn my twitter stream on first thing in the morning (<shamelessplug>@dadenoughblog if you’re not already following</shamelessplug>, I’ve seen quite a few posts about the day, reminding folks to “light it up blue” and foster further awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

On the other hand, I’m also seeing a lot of folks tweeting instead about “Autism Acceptance Day”, and being quite explicit that what they want more is “acceptance” of the foibles folks with Autism have, rather than simply “awareness”.

Planting my flag is easy on this one – I want more awareness, not acceptance.  No one has to “accept” that my son has Autism, or “accept” his behaviors.  I want them aware of the disorder, aware of how it affects him and how it colors his behavior.

And I come at it that way because I don’t “accept” Autism as being a requirement of things.  Acceptance, to me, is almost… surrender.  It’s allowing oneself to see it as defining my son based on a disorder he has, rather than just another challenge to overcome.

My Monster is brilliant, funny, and caring.  He loves his little brother, likes to sing and play with blocks, is a whiz with the alphabet and letters.  He can count to ten in three languages (with some help) and loves gymnastics.  And all of that is “in spite” of having Autism.  Yes, he has the occasional meltdown, and he’s no where near as verbal as his peers.  Yes, he doesn’t seem as interested in socializing as other children his age and still engages in more parallel play than cooperative play… but those are things that folks need to be “aware” of, not “accept”.

I don’t accept that my son has Autism.  I’m aware that he has Autism, and I’m working hard, hour by hour, day after day, to help him overcome it.

Happy Autism Awareness Day, folks.

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