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  • Writer's pictureKatie York

Five Simple Ways To Show Autism Acceptance All Year Long


This April, instead of observing Autism Awareness Month, follow the lead of Autistic self-advocates and observe Autism Acceptance Month instead.


Autistic self-advocate Kassiane Asasumasu said it best: “Awareness says the tragedy is that I exist as I am. Acceptance says that the tragedy would be trying to make me any other way.”


Awareness is important, but what Autistic folks truly need is radical acceptance by allistic (non-autistic) individuals. Awareness presents autism as a problem to be solved. Acceptance acknowledges the true problem is how Autistic people are treated by society. Awareness pays lip service; acceptance means action.


Here are five simple ways to show acceptance to autistic people all year long:


1. Presume competence.

Don’t talk down to autistic people or assume a person who is nonspeaking cannot understand what you say.


2. Don’t use functioning labels.

Many times, the term “high functioning” is used to deny autistic people access to support, and “low functioning” is used to deny autistic people agency. Functioning labels are also often inaccurate, since someone may appear "high functioning" in a specific setting or on a specific day, but "low functioning" in another setting or different day. 


3. Amplify Autistic voices, especially those from historically excluded groups, such as autistic people who are nonspeaking, people of color, queer, and/or have high support needs. Let us tell our own stories. Read books/blogs written by Autistic people, not those written about us.

 

4. Only support autistic-led

organizations, like the Autistic Self-Advocate Network or Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network. Autism Speaks is not autistic-led and often perpetuates harmful stereotypes about autistic people. 


5. Everybody "stims" (makes repetitive actions or movements like flapping their hands or rocking), even folks who are not autistic! There is no need to discourage stimming unless it is harmful to someone.



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