Acceptance or awareness?

April is Autism Awareness month. Today, April 2, is Autism Awareness day. Awareness means literally, "I know that this thing exists", but not more. To accept is to know something exists and validate it in your mind and life. Acceptance goes much deeper than awareness. I can be aware that the grocery store is packed on Saturday afternoons and continue to be irritated by the number of people there. Or, I can accept that Saturday afternoons are crowded and try to plan my trip differently. Acceptance requires action. Usually positive action. There are different messages that come from supporters of the autistic community and from autistics. Some due to the fact that there are different entities putting out information. Person first language (a person with autism) versus identity first language (autistic person) is one set of differences. This can be a personal decision so if an autistic person corrects you about their desire, respect it. But the adult autistic community prefers identity first language. I was personally mistaken as I thought the overreaching preference was person first. I am working to correct this in my general writing, but with my person to person interactions, I will default to what the person I am with prefers. Another is red or blue and puzzle piece or infinity sign. Autism Speaks is the entity that for a long time spoke for the autistic community. However, a lot of their information is harmful to the community. Their goal is to end autism, not bring education or acceptance. There aren't autistic people directly involved in the company. When allistic (those without autism) are the only voices involved in speaking for and making decisions for autistic people, there is a problem. (Yes, I am an allistic person speaking for autistic ones, but I am listening to the autistic community and sharing my experiences with my two autistic loves.) Autism speaks are the ones who decided on blue (because they thought autism more prevalent in boys) and a puzzle piece (because autistics don't fit). Here is the piece I did about the puzzle. The autistic community decided to change the color to red or gold and use an infinity symbol with a rainbow pattern. The rainbow represents a spectrum. No two autistic people are the same. There is a spectrum, so the rainbow visual is perfect. The infinity symbol means there always have been and always will be autistic people and our goal shouldn't be to end autism, but to learn about and accept it. My goal with this blog and my book is to educate everyone I can about what autism looks like in my life. Which is vastly different from how it looks in other families. My eloper wasn't my autistic kid. Will isn't a flight risk. Will struggles with flexibility and compromise and change. Leigh struggles with different things. Though they are both autistic, and father/son, they still experience autism differently. They share some characteristics but not all. So, this month, wear red, not blue. Stop using the puzzle piece and use the infinity symbol instead. #redinstead #autismacceptance

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