13 Autistic People Share What Autism Acceptance Means to Them
April is Autism Acceptance Month, and here at The Mighty, we want to amplify the most important voices in the conversation — those of autistic people. We asked the autistic folks in our community to share what autism acceptance means to them. Here’s what they had to say.
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
1. “I would like everyone to know that all individuals with autism are unique and special in their own way. Autism acceptance to me means being comfortable with who you are and accepting yourself completely.” — Keara Farnan
2. “The thing I want people to know [this month and every month] is that we aren’t broken. There is absolutely nothing wrong with us. Our brains are wired slightly differently from the Neurotypical population, but that doesn’t make us any less. We are not failed Neurotypicals. We’re perfectly formed autistic
3. “Autism acceptance is more than just taking the ‘grin and bear it’ approach to being aware that your friend/neighbor/classmate etc. is autistic. It means being willing to accept that the things that may make them ‘different’ are also what make them who they are. It means recognizing and trying to understand why some of those differences occur and focusing on whatever way you can to help that person exist in whatever capacity is easiest for them.” — Richard Coffey
4. “I want people to know that Autism Acceptance Month is a staging point for the rest of the year. We don’t just last a day or a month — acceptance is a year-long effort. We are here all the time! Acceptance includes accommodations and patience in the workplace and once we have the proper accommodation for our specific ASD then many of us are able to thrive and achieve so much more than we are given credit for.” — B Butcher
5. “Because autism is part of who I am, autism acceptance means accepting me and the people in my community. But acceptance doesn’t mean sharing an Instagram post or telling an autistic person how inspiring they are (please don’t do that actually). The autism/neurodiversity movement has become centered around a lot of people like me — people who are comfortable verbally communicating and who can basically pass as neurotypical. This isn’t acceptance. Autism acceptance is moving forward towards normalizing AAC and alternate forms of communication, educating on the importance of stimming and other misunderstood autistic
6. “Autism Acceptance Month is a chance for all of us to listen to autistic individuals and learn how the world can be a better place for us. Autism Acceptance Month is a chance to listen to autistic individuals from marginalized communities and learn how we can all make the world a safer place for us.” — Kala Allen
7. “Autism acceptance, to me, is to break down the social “norms” we have created, both in the community and within ourselves. The world wasn’t built for people on the spectrum and it is time to have society meet us halfway in adapting. This Autism Acceptance Day, I want people to know that being autistic is something to be proud of. Being autistic is my superpower and I want everyone else to feel that way about their autism.” — Nera Birch
8. “I want people to know that being autistic doesn’t make me any less of a student, employee, spouse, friend, community member, family member, or parent. Being autistic helps me shine in all that I am and do in life. To me, autism acceptance means I’m able to be authentically myself and the focus is on getting to know me as a whole person rather than trying to cure, fix, change, or hide my autism or any other parts of who I am.” — Kris McElroy
9. “Autism is something that the media don’t always portray with the most accurate depictions. Instead, autism means that someone has the power to do anything he or she aspires, and bring success to him or herself to make his or her family and friends proud. No disability disables anyone, and autism is no exception to that. Autism acceptance means not letting someone’s diagnosis get in the way of his or her capabilities.
Autism is not a barrier to anyone’s life. It’s only a stamp to who they are as a person. Often, autistic individuals have dreams and aspirations for what they want in life, and no one should ever doubt or hold them back from achieving them. Regardless of whether autistic individuals want to be a doctor, teacher, engineer or journalist, those who want to become those occupations should be given a chance and to showcase their skill set to their employers. Furthermore, any autistic individual can attend public schools and college, and set out to receive the best education and training that will help them succeed in life.” — Zach Smith
10. “This is my first year celebrating Autism Acceptance Day since I’ve been diagnosed autistic and I’ve never felt so understood and accepted than within the autistic community. Autism acceptance means instead of searching for a cure, it’s listening to autistic voices, watching us happy stim, engaging with us on our special interests, understanding what triggers our meltdowns. That’s what true autism acceptance looks like to me.” — Amelia Blackwater
11. “I would like for folks to know about me and families like mine. I am mommy to my three girls, two are both autistic and have ADHD. I have undiagnosed autism and diagnosed ADHD, which were not truly recognized until after my second daughter’s diagnosis. Some of us are really struggling with “passing.” My trouble with “passing” for a neurotypical woman/mom is that my and my family’s needs are not accepted or validated. The pain from this invisibility is just the tip of the iceberg.
In my family, autism is the bridge connecting parent to child, and child to child. We are an autistic family through and through. We live, love, and hurt hard. But we are also a gaggle of nerds who enjoy connecting with others.
Also: On this Autism Awareness Month, I would like to share an observation I made recently. If you rewatch Disney’s ‘Frozen’ and ‘Frozen 2’ with the lens of autism, the story becomes an easily digestible allegory for being autistic and loving a sibling who is autistic. If you want to see a movie that illustrates two sisters and the bridge of undiagnosed ASD, check out ‘Frozen’/’Frozen 2!'” — Mama Tine
12. “Autism acceptance to me means trying to embrace and understand who autistic people and their loved ones actually are. When I was diagnosed at 4, it was all about ‘autism awareness.’ Don’t get me wrong. That’s the first step to these conversations. Decades later now, as an adult, I’m a public speaker who wants Autism Acceptance Day to be the new norm.” — Dr. Kerry Magro Ed.D, CAS
13. “For Autism Acceptance Month, I want people to know that we are part of the world. We come from many backgrounds and stories, but we all learn and see the world differently than neurotypicals. Autism acceptance for me means to accept autistics for who they are. No more no less.” — Robert Schmus