For me, Autism Acceptance isn’t a single act.
But 1,000 acts of love, carried out every single day, in effort to improve my child’s quality of life.
Autism Acceptance is being flexible.
Sometimes it is cleaning up after a messy sensory exploration. Other times it is happily waiting outside a busy museum with her watching her investigate various surfaces—while the rest of my family explores inside.
Autism Acceptance isn’t being overly permissive. It isn’t allowing my child’s education or development stagnate.
For me, that has meant acknowledging that I have mistakenly failed to give her access to a functional language by insisting that she learn to speak…instead of giving her access to AAC so that she can communicate in the way that she is capable. It is fighting for her to have access to a challenging and appropriate education which reflects the presumption of her competence.
Autism Acceptance is not forcing my child to conform to social norms.
I will flap in joy with her no matter where we are. I will glare in defiance at any person who dares to cast disapproving eyes on her.
Autism Acceptance is understanding that my child has very specific interests.
I will always present opportunities to engage in new activities. When she declines in favor of swimming every day or watching the same Sesame Street, I don’t fret. I smile. It means that I do not label her passions “obsessions.” Instead, I encourage her to explore her special interests with enthusiasm and understanding.
Autism Acceptance is a struggle.
NOT a struggle against my child.
But a struggle to remember that what makes my child feel good is not the same as what makes me feel good. A struggle to remember that it is not my job to desensitize her or immerse her in that which she cannot cope.
A struggle against those that insist that she must conform.
A struggle to keep my mind open—to continue to question the things that I think I know.
A struggle to balance my innate desire to protect my child with giving her the freedom she needs to learn and grow.
Autism Acceptance is infuriating.
Having to repeatedly insist that my child is a human being. That she has the right to autonomy. That she must be respected. Pointing out, over and over, the ways which her basic human rights are being violated.
Autism Acceptance is being prepared.
For me that means never running out of yogurt. Always being prepared to leave overwhelming situations. Having an understanding of what she entitled to by law and being prepared to demand that the law is obeyed.
Autism Acceptance is loving parenting.
Remembering that the only thing I want for my child is happiness and that it is my privilege to help her get there.
Knowing that this is the child that I want and love. And that a non-Autistic version of her is not only not possible—but not wanted.