Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Community of Acceptance- Autism Acceptance Day 2016

I originally posted this as a note on Facebook.

Dear friends, family, followers, Facebook friends and everyone!
The 6th annual Autism Acceptance Day and Month starts April 2, 2016! This initiative was started by in 2011 as a corrective to the cure-oriented and often negative portrayals of autism during the month of April. The 6th annual Facebook event (Facebook is where it all started!) is here

Earlier in the month it was here (below), but due to FB  time limits on events, another one was started for the second half of the month.
For some of the historical background, please visit One of the earliest writings that helped promote our neurodiversity-friendly approach was written by Steve Silberman in 2012, the second year of Autism Acceptance Day/Month.

The image above was created by Landon Bryce, and says “International Autism Acceptance Decade: Moving Beyond Awareness, 2010 to 2020.”

It seemed like such a long time when we came up with that logo several years ago! This designated “International Decade” is half over, and the collective efforts of many Autistics, friends, family members and supporters of acceptance for Autistics and people with disabilities has made not only a dent, but a growing impact on the conversations about autism that take place in April and throughout the year. It is no longer appropriate to use rhetoric about “devastating disorder” and images of deficit as the primary attitude toward autism. This community of acceptance has had a lasting, not temporary effect. 
Now, many other Autism Acceptance events and initiatives are taking place, including “Light It Up Gold,” “Walk in Red,” “Tone It Down Taupe” (colorful responses to the not-so-ubiquitous blue puzzle piece frenzy), ASAN’s
and many others, some of which are listed below. All of these campaigns and events are pro-neurodiversity, pro-acceptance of Autistics. While other groups and organizations promote a hazy-at-best and hate-filled-at-worst sort of “awareness,” Autism Acceptance Day and Month initiatives are clear on one thing: we must be accepted and appreciated for who we are, not what we “could be,” not what we are “despite” our autism, not as a “damaged” subset of human beings.

Please consider joining one of these events instead of "lighting it up blue." The "awareness" campaigns, even when appropriating the language of acceptance, which they started doing almost immediately with no crediting of Autistics for creating this movement, are still focused on "specialness," "autism is not a disability" (? of course autism is a disability!) and cures.

#WalkInRed 2016
Tone It Down Taupe during April (an especially brilliant way of criticizing the over-the-top focus of "awareness" campaigns!)
Let's chat about Autism Acceptance in Jewish Education #matanchat
Post cats during April instead.
Autism Acceptance Month Poetry Event

And a shout-out to Apple for going with Autism Acceptance instead of more "autism awareness." Apple links to a video of an Autistic young man named Dillan, who uses an iPad for language-based communication.
Emily Willingham writes about Apple here: Apple Goes Beyond Autism Awareness, Promotes Acceptance
Screen capture of a post by Steve Silberman, who wrote the best-selling book Neurotribes, responding to award-winning author and Forbes blogger Emily Willingham's article "Apple Goes Beyond Autism Awareness, Promotes Acceptance." There's a lot of text. The image is from Facebook so there is the profile picture from Steve and from Emily, a photo of the big Apple logo on the side of a building and people standing below that, many of them texting on their iPhones. The Facebook sharing thing, "Steve Silberman shared Emily Willingham's post" and then his comments: "Congratulations to Paula C. Durbin-Westby, whose idea of going beyond "Autism Awareness" to "Autism Acceptance" certainly influenced my keynote speech at the United Nations (the transcript will be up soon) and seems to have inspired Apple, too. Yay!" Below that is Emily Willingham's original post: "Apple goes with #AutismAcceptance over "awareness" with a pair of videos and a complex message from an autistic teen h/t Shannon Des Roches Rosa Paula C. Durbin-Westby." Then the image, and below that the title and link to Emily's post on "Apple Goes Beyond Autism Awareness, Promotes Acceptance." and part of the text from the article, which begins "Without a world willing to step from awareness to acceptance, having autism will be like being in hell for a lot of autistic people."
My favorite thing I have ever written about Autism Acceptance, for Autism Acceptance Day 2012. If you are new to this site, you can view it here: This essay can also be found in the *Loud Hands, Autistic People Speaking,* and also in *And Straight on Till Morning* (both available on Amazon). Speaking of publications, is owned by disabled people.

Happy Autism Acceptance Day and Month!