Is the world ready for Autism Acceptance? How about you or your community? As another Autism Awareness Month passed us by, it seems pretty much evident that many are becoming more aware of autism. From all other areas across the globe, people and establishments move to raise awareness as a means to step-up acceptance level on autism. People organize fundraisers, special events, talks and forums, contests, art shows, film showing, and a plethora of activities to make April a month for humanity to take a glimpse at what autism is all about. I believe, we have already succeeded in the “awareness” level. However, Autism ACCEPTANCE by way of supporting both individuals with autism and families affected by such is still very much lacking.
With the autism statistics continually rising, the number of unfavorable (some horrible and fatal) incidences also amplifies. Many kids with autism still get bullied or hurt by those who surround them or by those who are tasked to care and keep them safe. This extends to adults with autism. Amid the awareness campaign, many establishments are still reluctant to hire them.
These are the realities in the world of autism. No matter how we deny them, such things are happening within our midst. As a mother to a young adult with autism, I am urging everyone to find ways to support individuals and autism. Acceptance can come in many forms and some of these can truly mean a lot:
- Stand up for autism when the situation demands it. There are certain times when ignorance sets in. Being “aware” of autism gives you an upperhand. Take time to explain or to give others a chance to understand more about autism. There is no sense not doing anything for someone being lambasted openly just for being who he or she is. Let people learn how to accept autism in society by showing them.
- Offer to help families struggling with autism. Families touched with autism can be challenging and, at times, exhausting. Rest is but a word to them. There is no day-off. The very least you can do is offer to help them. Why not pick grocery items or a prescription medication? Lending an extra pair of hands to a neighbor or a friend with an autism child will help keep their heads above water. Sometimes, an offer to mow the lawn or simply clean the piled up dishes on the sink brings astounding relief to others.
- While families with autism gravitate towards each other, the need for greater inclusion in a community is a welcoming idea. Include them in your community events or special occasion celebrations by extending an invitation. Even the act itself can be pure gratification.
- For teachers, you don’t need a special needs certification to be able to extend help. There are various tools which can be learned online to aid you in making a difference to a neighbor’s autistic child. You can give practical ways to teach these kids. Subjects like reading, arts and crafts, music and the likes can help add more fun to their lives.
- For caregivers, make it an advocacy to transform services into affection. People with autism need not just your therapies but more so, your love for them. There are some who simply take their jobs as autism caregivers as more of a money-making option instead of a passion to give support to those who need it most.
- For parents to neurotypical kids, autism acceptance starts at home. Teach your kids the many challenges autism kids and their families face. Give them a chance to see autism through your compassionate eyes. Some kids indifference stem from lack of guidance at home.
In everything else, take time to listen and to understand the plight of families and individuals with autism. Yes, the first few steps to Autism Acceptance are going to be awkward. At times, it may even feel like you seem not to do what you’re supposed to do. Trust me, even without uttering a word—you being there will make a lot of difference.
Photo Credits: CancerSupportET.org
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