Autism Acceptance and Social Training

One time, my mother was teaching me about proper table manners, and I got frustrated. I had known about my diagnosis for quite some time by then, so I blurted out, “But I’m autistic!” She then came back with this: “Does that mean you get away with bad table manners?” At the time, I knew the answer: of course not. Most people think when it comes to acceptance, we let the kid get away with whatever behavior they want. Nobody should do that. What we do instead, is teach them the ways of communicating to and acting around neurotypical people. Teaching a person a way of communicating, like teaching a language, does not change a person’s basic core. What it does in reality is give the person a map around the jungle we call society.

Society really is a jungle; a jungle that thinks people with autism cannot get around inside it. (Thank you, narrowing and stereotyping media.) When I reveal my autism, society says to me, “You don’t (look/act/sound) autistic!” I simply tell them it was good social training, or that I’m a good actress. They don’t believe I can function quite well in a conversation. I would like to pose them this question: What does autism look/act/sound like anyway? Plus, are they confusing it with another condition?

My point is, my mother never really saw any reason to “fix” me or change me, just teach me how to act in American society. Have you considered societal training and autism acceptance can coexist peacefully, hand in hand? They are not conflicting concepts. A person with autism can and will, with proper training, function quite well in society. That is something people outside of autism families must be taught.

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