Worthy of Acceptance

[Image description: a group of human-like figures joining hands, each one a different colour. The figures have words labelled on them such as “kind”, “generous”, “unique”, and “powerful”.]

The most effective, most ethical, most powerful, and least expensive treatment for autism is acceptance and compassion.

Instead of expensive treatment programs and pseudoscientific procedures that promise results that will never come, we are asking our communities to attempt the cost-free experiment of giving us their love and patience.

Our societies have never made an attempt to accept us yet. When autism was first studied in the early 20th century, our countries’ first reaction was to make it illegal to be autistic. The voices advocating for compassion and acceptance were drowned out by voices of people who saw profit in building institutions and prescribing therapy programs. The voices advocating for compassion and acceptance are still drowned out by organizations that see profit in fundraising for treatment services by causing a public moral panic about autism.

For 100 years our societies have believed that the only way to make life enjoyable for autistic people is to convert them into typical people with treatments and therapies. This has not worked. It has only brought trauma, pain, and shame to autistic people. It has made us want to hide who we are so that people will not pity us or treat us differently. It has forced us to wear a disguise to keep ourselves safe from prejudice and discrimination.

Acceptance has not been attempted yet because it is a difficult, personal process. There is a vulnerability that comes with attempting to love something you have been taught to fear. It is frightening to have somebody who is not like you sitting at your table. But there is nothing to fear. We are not dangerous, just different.

There is labour that comes with education and attempting to see the world through unfamiliar perspectives. When we tell you how we see the world, a lot of it is confusing. We completely understand that there is a lot of personal work involved in trying to learn the autistic worldview, because it was a lot of work for us to have to learn the typical worldview and practice it every day. It is just as confusing to us when you make us see the world through your eyes instead of our own.

But this difference in perspective is critical to the success of our communities. When people see the world differently, some see opportunities that not everybody else sees. Some see solutions to problems that not everybody sees. If we all see the world the same way, we will miss opportunities and solutions that could have been acted on if we chose diversity instead of conformity.

Embracing neurodiversity means loving neurodivergent people for exactly who they are, without needing them to change for your benefit. The most prominent way for a society to demonstrate its embrace of neurodiversity is to end this violent, expensive, hate-motivated search for a cure for autism.

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