As many of you know, today (April 2) is World Autism Day. Most families and people who hear about autism will Light it Up Blue, as Autism Speaks dictates so. But the adults with autism, the Actually Autistic, have decided to support two campaigns of their own: Red Instead and Light it Up Gold. The funny thing about Red Instead and Light it Up Gold, is that they support the same cause: Autism Acceptance. I support Autism Acceptance, but it’s hard for me to choose to support one color or another. I have decided to support both, and urge that they come together in order to further the cause of Autism Acceptance.
Now, what is Autism Acceptance? Autism Acceptance is a movement started among autistic adults to end the pathologizing of autism, and to give the necessary support to individuals with autism – the real help they need. What is pathologizing? Pathologizing is making and supporting anything different into a “disease model” of fear and loathing, and to search frantically for a “cure” to make the person more like you. That is pathologizing. Pathologizing is unnecessary, hateful and wastes precious time and money looking for something which simply needs to be understood and supported.
Now, let me tell you a few things Autism Acceptance is not: Autism Acceptance is not letting your child harm themselves for a stim. (You can help them find a harmless stim to use in times of letting off energy or emotion.) Autism Acceptance is not giving your child full rein to be a savage douchebag in your house. Autism Acceptance is also not letting your child get away with unacceptable behavior. (Unacceptable behavior is that which can harm the person or others. Innocent, helpful stimming does NOT fall into the Unacceptable category.) Autism Acceptance is, however, working with the strengths of autism (yes, there are strengths) to teach the ones in your care how to communicate effectively. (Yes, most unacceptable behavior is an attempt to communicate when words fail the person.) Yes, autism is a disability in this particular society, but it also has its uses. Many people have used autism’s strengths (fixation = focus and drive, for instance,) to succeed at their chosen fields, and anthropologists have even theorized that autism had advantages in a ancient human living. But I digress.
Autism Acceptance is supported by two movements, as I have said above. One movement is Red Instead, the other is Light it Up Gold. They both came out of similar circumstances: as a counter to the Light it Up Blue campaign with Autism Speaks, which pathologizes autism unnecessarily. The two causes have similar goals and agendas, so why not come together as one, since the combination of red and gold is still untaken. We can have red and gold for Autism Acceptance, and we can present a united front against the curebies.