Autism Acceptance Month

This April, I’m sure there will be a lot of people spreading so-called “autism awareness.” Because apparently, once you are aware that a condition called “autism” exists, you have done all you need to do to help autistic people. Of course, all you’ve actually done is useless posturing to feel good about yourself, and if useless posturing does make you feel good about yourself, then I think you should seriously examine your moral standards. In fact, many people who spread “autism awareness” don’t even know what autism is. The way I like to describe autism is with an analogy. There are two main types of computers: Macs and PCs. Both are computers, but they use different operating systems. Neither is a broken version of the other. They’re different computers with different ways of processing information and different ways of functioning. That’s basically what autism is. It’s a different operating system. Autistic people are people who have a different type of neurology than neurotypical people. However, most people don’t think about it that way. To continue the analogy, they think of a Mac as a broken PC, and they think the solution is to reprogram all Macs into PCs. But if they did that, they would miss the unique abilities and contributions that the Mac has to offer. In the same way, many people want to “cure” autism. They think of autistic people as broken neurotypical people that need to be reprogrammed through things like behavioral therapy. But you can’t reprogram a human being. And if you tried, you would miss the unique abilities and contributions that person has to offer. However, people don’t need to be useful to be valuable. Autistic people deserve to be accepted and valued because they are people, just as all people deserve to be accepted and valued because they are people. Being aware that autistic people exist is not good enough. It doesn’t take any work. It doesn’t do any good. Acceptance takes work. It takes understanding, and actually making an effort to include people in a real and meaningful way. It means accepting that the way you view and process the world isn’t the only one, and isn’t the only correct one. It means working to create a world where everyone is treated equally, and where everyone’s contributions are valued. Let’s stop spreading autism awareness and start working toward something better: autism acceptance.

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