Autism Awareness month has gone through a few makeovers along the years. We autistics quickly tired of the word awareness. I think most people are aware that we exist nowadays. It also makes it feel more like a rare disease than a neurological disorder. Most people, this year, have gone with the term Autism Acceptance, which is a step in the right direction. It’s still not enough, though.
Is acceptance the best we can do? To me, that sounds like the bare minimum. The dictionary definition of acceptance is the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like we’re being tolerated rather than included. We need much more than acceptance. We need to respected and loved. We are not just adequate. We are vibrant beings that offer so much to this world.
I vote we call next April Autism Pride month and we spend the whole month appreciating and celebrating autistic culture and autistic people. I am so proud to be autistic and I want to spread that feeling to all my fellow autistics. I want the next generation of autistic children to never have to feel like they aren’t an important part of society, for them to not have to change who they are to fit in. I was taught to be ashamed of my autism. I know that if I heard the term autism pride during my earlier years, I would have felt much better about who I am much sooner. Be proud to be autistic. Be proud to rock and flap. Be proud of your special interests. Be proud to be yourself.