Awareness vs acceptance

Acceptance vs Awareness

Thank you to Sharon Starkey of [Autism Vision of Colorado Community Group Facebook]( for asking this question, and specifically inviting us #ActuallyAutistic folks to reply! (And for poking me as requested this morning so I’d remember to do so 😅)

I’m pretty new to the autistic community, having been diagnosed a few years ago at 30(31? 🤷🏻‍), so my opinion can sometimes differ from autistics who have been here for much longer, if not their whole lives. So, as always, my opinion is mine and autistics disagree with each other just as much as anyone else does, especially online 😅.

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For me, I certainly don’t get upset when I see “Autism Awareness,” but it absolutely does also communicate to me that that person/group knows of autism from non-autistic sources. And frankly, that’s knowing a very different (at best, a very small subgroup of) autism than really exists. To most of us, it’s code for “I follow Autism Speaks and am probably in exclusively neurotypical-run support groups.” And with some leeway for such people who are also new to this world and haven’t realized that there even are autistic advocates and autistic-led groups– that is generally a choice. And to choose to stay in a neurotypical parent-led autism bubble and not follow [[ ActuallyAutistic|actual autistics ]] suggests, well… they don’t like us 😂. And that’s ableist but whatever… but the real thing that upsets us about all that, is knowing they are raising autistics. But they don’t like autistics, or respect them enough to follow their lead with this sort of thing at best.

But ignoring all that baggage for the moment and going back to awareness vs. acceptance itself:

Awareness is great! I know some autistics say “there’s plenty of awareness, we need acceptance!” As someone who is extremely self-aware and very active in disability advocacy groups online, and still didn’t realize I was autistic til a few years ago, I hate that because it’s absolutely wrong. But, to their credit, from what I’ve seen, it seems that really what they mean is “people are aware we exist!” and I can certainly agree with that. But many other people, myself included, see awareness as not being awareness of our exisistance, but awareness of what the heck autism means. And that we have absolutely nowhere near enough of.

So, that’s a thing, the idea of “Autism Acceptance Month”

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