Friday, April 14, 2017

April Brings Autism Awareness May it bring Acceptance

April Brings Autism Awareness May it bring Acceptance

Autism awareness exists largely because Autism was once a much less common condition, or so it seemed. When my son was diagnosed in 2005, he was 1 of 150; in 2014 he became 1 of 68. So more people are aware for that reason alone. According to the National Institute of Health, back in the 70’s and 80’s autism rates were more like 1 in 5000 and 1 in 2500 respectively. I am not here to discuss the reasons why, no one honestly knows that anyway.  These facts are just mentioned as to why there is such a thing as “Autism Awareness Month”. 

Autism is complex; it takes more than just a short article to explain or bring “awareness”. Autism is an entire way of thinking different. Therefore this yields an entire way of behaving and functioning differently than what is considered “normal” or “typical”. Autistic people have a lot of the same needs and abilities as others, but they also have skill deficits in some areas, and advanced skills in other areas. Such as sensory issues much stronger than what humans usually deal with, their ears and nerves can just hurt much more than yours. But that same person may also have some strong fascination with baking they could teach Betty Crocker a thing or too. Just because people with autism have disabilities and deficits is not a criticism, nor something to feel bad about. It’s just a fact. The negatives of the disorder still yield many positives, culminating people into little puzzle-filled snowflakes.

And I am not talking about the way all people are different, but in some respects it is the same as that. As with many disabilities, people seek to find the balance between being treated the same where applicable and also not punished because of their limitations and needs. They have enormous challenges and live the life of the unexplainable-hence the acceptance part.

Autism in a way gives us all the opportunity every day to work on being accepting.  This is connected to why it’s important to know yourself. Love and respect yourself so you can do this for others, to not bother wasting energy on judging others. For all it does is paint a picture of yourself. That picture can be a nice picture or a nasty one, that choice is always yours.

When you see, hear, read things about anything really, you don’t have to make assumptions and judge if it isn’t being directed at you, or involves you directly. You can actually just accept it. You will never know why something happened, or why someone does what they did, because it isn’t you. Like the beauty of a snow globe, you can shake it up and look at the snow gently falling around in a beautiful setting, but you can never know what it would feel like to be in that globe because you are outside of it. It could be awful in there, or the opposite could be true. You simply cannot know.

Acceptance is not about being in agreement, it isn’t about what you like, love, or hate. 

Acceptance is your chance to be who you are. Acceptance is what gives you the ability and the right to even have an opinion.  You accept your opinion, if you didn’t you wouldn’t have a valid opinion because you didn't accept it. You can accept something and still not agree with or like it.  

Acceptance allows you to try something new, like a new taste, a new experience, or a new friend.
Acceptance allows you more peace; it gives you freedom from worry. Acceptance can free you from arguments.  You accept your friend’s opinions about being vegan, even though you would never ever stop eating bacon. But you accept their beliefs for themselves and appreciate that they won't be eating your meat. Their beliefs actually helps the planet and gives you more of what you want. Everyone gets to be who they are. 

You accept the things that can not be changed. 

You must first acknowledge and be aware of what can not be changed, or that is not your business to change. 

This then makes it obvious that you have a choice to be more accepting in life to allow more goodness into it, more peace. You aren't wasting energy and time trying to change anyone.

You choose to accept people or you don't, that is the your decision, the beauty of life.  If you want to have more peace, you accept more and fight less.  Its that simple. You pick your battles.

I often remind my son to not concern himself with the opinions of others that are full of anger, disapproval and basic non-acceptance. For if that is what they think of him, then what they think doesn't matter. Why value the opinion of someone like that? I have told him, not everyone will like you, but the ones with negative things to say only show us who they are, not who we are.

Awareness about Autism or anything really isn't enough. You can be aware the sun is shining, but if you don’t accept that it is a nice day and choose to go out into it, you will miss it.

For more on seeing Autism differently and learning acceptance here's my book!

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