Friday, April 19, 2013

Autism Acceptance Is NOT



Trigger Warning: Mentions of cure, ableism, mourning for autism diagnosis.
As March ended, I wrote a few things that Autism Acceptance is. And it's important.
We also need to be aware of what Autism Acceptance isn't. And that's what I'm talking about today.

"I love my child, but I hate his autism." That's not autism acceptance. It's not even acceptance of who your kid is. Because some of the things you claim to love are also closely intertwined with autism.

Acceptance as in the stage of grief is also not autism acceptance.

By the way, that's what Autism Speaks is talking about here:

Acceptance
Ultimately, you may feel a sense of acceptance. It's helpful to distinguish between accepting that your child has been diagnosed with autism and accepting autism. Accepting the diagnosis simply means that you are ready to advocate for your child.
The period following an autism diagnosis can be very challenging, even for the most harmonious families. Although the child affected by autism may never experience the negative emotions associated with the diagnosis, parents, siblings and extended
family members may each process the diagnosis in different ways, and at different rates. 

That's not autism acceptance. That's going through mourning for a kid because they have a different neurology than you do.

(Most of the things Autism Speaks has tagged with autism acceptance are nothing of the kind. Just so you know.)

Biomedical treatments for autism are not autism acceptance. Medical treatments for the other conditions that an autistic person might have are good, but completely irrelevant to the question of accepting autism or not, just like the those conditions aren't actually autism. (No, really. Whatever it is that's up with my stomach isn't autism, nor is my history of asthma, nor was my shellfish allergy. No, I don't know how a shellfish allergy going away works, but it happened and I don't really care how it happened.)

Insisting that autistic people must learn to pass for neurotypical while also claiming it's fine to be autistic isn't autism acceptance.

Telling Autistic people who have learned to pass because they had to that this means they aren't really Autistic isn't autism acceptance either.
Insisting that you can speak for all Autistic people isn't autism acceptance no matter who you are. That you can say some things which could help all Autistic people and trying to do so? That could be autism acceptance if the things you're saying fit under it. (Remember, we all communicate for ourselves, you can speak for the benefit of someone else, but not for them unless they have said you can.)

Demanding eye contact is not autism acceptance.

Demanding quiet hands is not autism acceptance.

Setting "indistinguishable from one's peers" as the goal is not autism acceptance.

Conflating life skills with passing for neurotypical is not autism acceptance.

Speaking of cures is not autism acceptance. 
(Cures for things that aren't autism are kind of irrelevant to autism acceptance, so this still holds.)

Comparing rates of autism with rates of cancer, AIDS, other things that are actually diseases? 
Not autism acceptance.

Being proud of your own Autistic self, then turning around and insisting that a certain other group of Autistic people needs a cure? Not autism acceptance.
   
Autism Acceptance Is NOT was first posted here.

Note: Comments have been turned off for this post. I forgot to do it when I posted it. Most reprints do not have comments.