Thursday, March 28, 2013
Awareness vs Acceptance
Being aware of something is quite different than being accepting of it.
Awareness- knowledge or perception of a situation or fact
Acceptance- the process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable
"Awareness says the tragedy is that I exist as I am. Acceptance says that the tragedy would be trying to make me any other way", Kassianne of Radical Neurodivergence Speaking wrote, in an article published by ASAN. You can read the whole article here (and you probably should read it as Kassianne has been thinking about, and living with, the issue of awareness vs acceptance a lot longer than I have). You may agree or disagree with her that her statement is true. But the fact is, that all Autism Awareness campaigns have achieved for Autistic Adults in many cases is to help them feel that "normal" people see them as wrong.
I have a 14 year old Autistic son, who is rapidly approaching adulthood. There are many things I want to help him achieve. There are also many things I want to avoid as I support him navigating life. One of the things I most want to avoid is him thinking that I believe he is not good enough just as he is. I am very aware that one day he might read everything I have written in this blog. If he does, he will see the posts I wrote last year in April for #Autism Awareness month. They were a series of Question and Answer style posts. No doubt if I were to sit and write them again now they'd be a bit different, as I have learned a lot in the past year, and my attitudes have changed in some ways. Life is, after all, a journey.
He will also one day read the things I will write this April. He will probably notice that this year I will not be using the phrase #Autism Awareness.
Along with many other bloggers, I will be calling April #Autism Acceptance Month.
If you have time, read this article by Steve Silberman at NeuroTribes for an explanation of why- it is long, but really, really worth it. Steve has written thoughtfully and insightfully on this topic, and includes interviews with many wonderful Autistic Advocates (some of whom I am immensely grateful to have been given the opportunity to get to know online recently). I could write pages of my developing thoughts on this topic, but it would still just be the thoughts of a parent of Autistic children, and what you really need to hear is what Autistic Adults think and feel about Awareness and Acceptance. So, please do read Steve's article. If you can't make time to read the whole article, just read the next bit here, which is taken from it: