The words “autism” and “acceptance” are both very powerful words. When we read them independent of each other, they both have significant meaning but are not nearly as empowering as if we were to combine the two.
It is such a simple statement but it packs a huge underlying importance. For parents, families and friends of individuals diagnosed with autism, finding acceptance is often extremely difficult. Many parents report a lack of acceptance during the initial stages of having their child diagnosed, whether it is from their own family, friends or the community. Some family members or friends will often feel overwhelmed or unaware about what to do when told the diagnosis of a child that they know, so their initial reaction is to turn their back; possibly the worst thing to do to a family who has just received a diagnosis. During this critical and fragile time in the family’s life, acceptance can mean the world. Knowing that they have support and are not being judged can give the parents the strength they need to fight for their child.
How do we prevent this? We must educate and teach our communities about autism spectrum disorder so that acceptance can happen. With 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with autism, there is no better time than now for the world to become accepting of autism. Acceptance means to be educated. Acceptance means to keep judgment to oneself. Acceptance means to be welcoming of differences. Acceptance means to embrace others, regardless of their abilities. To stick up for those who need it. To continue to love and care for all, whether there is a diagnosis, a label or not.
Over the last few years I am pleased to have witnessed a growth in autism acceptance through events such as Autism Acceptance day, held each April 2nd
. The words “LIGHT IT UP BLUE” are the signature phrase for that day, encouraging all to wear blue and donate to autism foundations. This event emphasized the importance to EDUCATE oneself about autism, which is important in order to be accepting.
Other ways to promote autism acceptance include local Autism Walks, now a popular trend in many cities across the country, the most local ones being in Toronto, London, Brantford and Guelph. This event raises money for AutismSpeaks to help fund family services as well as autism research. These walks draw thousands of people who walk together to educate and teach others about autism.
There are smaller ways that we can promote autism acceptance in our every day life. They include:
- Autism Awareness bumper stickers
- Autism Awareness t-shirts
– Using social media to:
- ‘Share’ autism posts
- Invite others to follow groups such as AutismSpeaks
- Post your favorite blogs/websites
- Post the latest research findings regarding autism from a reliable source
– Educational autism flyers/pamphlets
By helping to educate others about autism we can help to achieve autism acceptance in our communities.
Written by Aynsley Barron a team member at The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre.