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  • Autism Acceptance Month

    As we take this month to spread acceptance, it is important to take time to educate ourselves on neurodiversity. By definition, neurodiversity refers to the celebration of different brains and the understanding that we all have differences. This blog is dedicated to the importance of helping autistic individuals accept their identity, as it is deeply ingrained in their being.

    This, however, can be difficult to do if we aren’t mindful of our stereotypes and the languages we use when describing autism. By understanding that when we say low-functioning versus high-functioning autism, we are devaluing and dehumanizing a group of human beings, and without knowing it, this leads to societal consent to the mistreatment and abusive behaviors towards this population of individuals. It’s important to recognize that there are more strength-based approaches and languages to describe someone’s struggles and challenges. Instead of saying low functioning, we can state, “in need of a higher (dependent) level of care.” Instead of saying high functioning, we can say “in need of a low (to no dependent) level of care.” “Or does not require as many accommodations for living assistance.”

    By changing our language to more strength-based languages, we are working to change our own stereotypes of what autism is. We are contributing to a better outlook on the diagnosis that, at times, can feel like a death sentence to families. As such, many families seek treatment that is tailored to making the autistic individual “more normal.” As a result, the message we are sending to that individual is “you are broken and in need of fixing.” When we take the time to educate our autistic individuals on autism and help celebrate their differences by acknowledging them within the family system, we are helping individuals create healthier identities about themselves, which in turn will help with their overall self-esteem. For example, if you wear glasses and are told the reason you can’t see properly without them is a result of a vision problem, the glasses and lenses help to correct such problems. It becomes less likely that the individual will blame themselves when they start having difficulties with their sight. More than likely, they will seek a new pair of glasses with improved lenses.

    This is true for those with autism; instead of blaming themselves, they will seek to recognize that the problem is external, and seeking appropriate accommodations can help them overcome specific barriers. We invite you to continue learning, spreading acceptance, and embracing our differences with open arms.