I have Autism. I am Autistic.
I don’t struggle with Autism.
I struggle with places that are not sensory friendly.
I struggle to be in rooms with fans.
I struggle with others not accepting me for who I am in social situations.
I struggle with planning and sequencing my movements (executive functioning).
I struggle with abrupt changes to my routine or familiar spaces.
I struggle with overload.
I struggle with being expected to act like a “normal” adult without Autism, while also struggling with all of these things.
I do not struggle with Autism. Autism is simply a part of who I am and helps me to think in unique ways that persons without Autism don’t.
I struggle with environment, society, and people.
My cultural environment was designed by people who don’t have Autism. Society is structured by persons who aren’t Autistic. People are taught by society that Autistic tendencies are wrong and unacceptable.
So what does Autism Acceptance mean?
What does Autism Acceptance look like?
It means understanding that I need sensory safe spaces to take a break “recharge”, or “regulate”, my nervous system so that it can continue processing a lot of sensory information.
This means, in environments that require me being fully present and attentive, understand that my sensory triggers need to be absent or low grade (with the addition of a safe space to go to for breaks) in order to participate.
It means other people need to sometimes explain to me the social rules and expectations for specific circumstances so that I can still participate without being misunderstood or embarrassed.
It means recognizing I will struggle to transition between tasks and may not be able to stop doing a task my attention is fully focused on just to focus on you.
It means understanding my struggle to transition between classes; gathering my things and putting them into my bag and leaving my desk to go to another class- just to unload and repack all of my things once more- is a massive effort for my brain and body.
It means considering that I may need to stay in one place so that this doesn’t occur or offering a helping hand (or verbal coaching) through these transitions.
It means ensuring I get a detailed heads up on any changes or modifications to my living space (or other safe, familiar, routine spaces/practices/rules) so that my brain is ready to accept and cope with these changes when they occur.
It means I need support and understanding while I learn to develop a way to both recognize and communicate that I need a break in a safe space before an overload meltdown can actually happen.
It means recognizing that I am normal, for an Autistic. My struggles and behavior are entirely typical of an Autistic. But you would likely have the same reactions to these things if only your brain processed information like mine.
So, these things are not Autism. These things I struggle with can also be struggles for other people who aren’t Autistic. Anyone can struggle with these things. I just happen to struggle with all of these things while also being Autistic.
So, what is Autism Acceptance, again?
Accommodation, Communication, Understanding, Support….. those are Acceptance.