Smart Apps For Android: Autism Awareness or Autism Acceptance? To label or not to label. That is the question!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Autism Awareness or Autism Acceptance? To label or not to label. That is the question!

Image taken from
As you are well aware by now, April is Autism Awareness Month, when different groups and organizations make it their business to raise awareness of autism and how it affects children and their families. There is much debate recently about whether awareness is enough, after all, probably most people are aware of autism, that it exists. Some may even be educated about how it affects individuals and possibly even have some strategies for support. Ultimately though, the best gift we can give someone with autism is ACCEPTANCE. Regardless of diagnosis and special needs, people with autism are part of society and should be accepted as valuable contributing citizens.

Temple Grandin, one of the most notable Autists, was recently interviewed by The Gazette (Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region) and discussed the use of the label "autism". While recognizing how fortunate kids are these days who get early diagnoses and intervention, she muses that the label can still be limiting. Often the "stumbling blocks," as she calls them, are people's perceptions rather than the child's ability. While a label can identify areas of need in order to provide support, it can also affect expectations and therefore opportunity.

The following message was posted recently on Autism and other ramblings blog: 

Awareness is good, but only if it leads to acceptance. Otherwise, it is just a waste of time.

Don't just be 'aware' of autism. Be accepting of it, of how it manifests itself, of how it makes autistic people think a bit differently. Most of all, remember, it makes autistic people DIFFERENT, NOT LESS. Never less.

Autistic people are not stupid. Just because some may be non verbal, it does not mean they are stupid. Far from it. Just because some autistic people flap their hands, it does not mean they are stupid. Far from it. 

Autistic people have as much right as anyone to be who they are. But they cannot comfortably do that until the world accepts who they are AND what they have to offer.

It is the 21st Century. Things need to change and change now. You can all help with that change.

People are too quick to judge anyone who is not 'ordinary.' The fault lies with those who judge, not with those who are being judged. Autistic people do not need to change, the world needs to change. It is not impossible, if the world wants to do it.

Autism Awareness is good, Autism Acceptance is a necessity. Total acceptance, not just token. Total acceptance. Nothing less will do.
- Laura Henretty

Temple Grandin is presenting at a conference at the end of April and her paper is entitled "My Sensory Based World." If you would like attend the conference, in Ventura California, click here for tickets (discounted tickets available for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder).

She also has just published a new book with Richard Panek, entitled The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed which encourages a focus on nurturing autistic children's strengths rather than always trying to support their weaknesses. You can purchase the book by clicking on the image on the left.

There is also a fabulous biographical movie on Temple Grandin, which shows just what it was like for her growing up and the struggles she went through when she went away to college. This movie was passed onto me by a friend whose son has autism and I was really touched by her determination, self-advocacy and imaginative coping strategies.

So, what action will you take to accept autism today?

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Cas wishes she was a photo-realistic visual thinker. Instead it's more like a rough sketch.

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