There are many topics that are close to people’s hearts. Issues with life (social) and biological ones that have to do with diseases and conditions. So the quest to bring awareness to others began. Many people try to bring awareness to others, in hope to get understanding as to why their lives are different, why they may not be able to participate the same way. To make you aware, that "hey, its just a bit different over here". Most often it seems we are trying to explain, the unexplainable, but every time, what we truly are looking for, is acceptance.
Autism awareness exists largely because this was once a much less common condition, or so it seemed. When my son was diagnosed in 2005, he was 1 of 150…now in 2014 he is 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.
Autism is complex, it is an entire way of thinking different, therefore an entire way of behaving and functioning differently, having different needs, different abilities. All of these are in positive and negative ways. Autistic people have a lot of the same needs and abilities as others, and they have strong abilities in particular areas. But with that, there is less abilities in others. This is not a criticism, It’s just a fact, it isn’t something to feel bad about, because the negatives still have great positives. But it is a reality that isn't going away because you or someone else wants it to.
And being "different" because of autism is not the same in the way that all people are different, and it is the same as that. Autism itself is a paradox and it can seem confusing. Many people are seeking to be treated the same, while they also know they are different, they have limitations, and they have enormous challenges and live the life of the unexplainable. Which is what brings in the acceptance part.
Autism 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, doesn’t involve you directly. You will never know why, because it isn’t you, and you aren’t there. 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….and the opposite could be true. You simply cannot know.
Acceptance is not about being in agreement, it isn’t about what you like, love, 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 your opinion is canceled out because it isn’t accepted. That may seem like a mind blowing concept, but it really isn't. Its basic and simple.
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 the freedom from worry. Acceptance frees you from arguments. (Well many of them)
The point is, you have a choice to be more accepting in life to allow more goodness into it, more peace. You don’t have to accept everything handed to you, for you would have too much.
You can be aware the sun is shining and the weather is mild, but if you don’t accept that it is a nice day and choose to go out into it, you will miss it. Awareness only gets you so far. So autism awareness is great but it has to lead to acceptance if we want to see our kids thrive, our communities more helpful and our loved ones more understanding.