Acceptance Is Belonging

by Amy Sequenzia

Autism Acceptance means more than love and understanding. It means belonging.

Belonging to a family, belonging to a school, belonging to a group that shares common interests, belonging to a group of co-workers, belonging to a community, small or large.

Autism Acceptance means belonging to humanity. It means that the world sees us as belonging to the human experience.

I have always been loved by my family. I was not completely understood, for a long time. Even today, with all the knowledge my family has about autism and why I do things the way I do, many of my relatives understand me but don’t really accept me.

To them, I don’t really belong to that place in the family that I would occupy if I were more “like them”. Instead, I am treated like a child, showered with praise, cheers and sadly, pity, but not seen as the adult that I am.

Love and understanding. Not really belonging.

In school I wasn’t really understood. I was constantly reminded that I was very “difficult”, that I had too many “issues”, that I wasn’t trying hard enough. To them, I could never belong anywhere because “who would want to ‘have’ Amy?”.
I was not accepted.

Everybody has something to contribute to the world. We can be part of small changes or big changes. We cannot show how we can make contributions if we don’t belong, if we are not accepted.

I left school and I found some people who truly accepted me. I belong in their lives and they belong in mine. I found my Autistic community (some non-autistic allies included) and I belong. I am accepted.

I am the same person that “nobody would want to ‘have’”. I still need help, I still have impairments, I still am disabled. I did not have to pretend to be “normal” to be accepted by my friends. And not only was I accepted, I was also embraced. I belong in my community.
Autism Acceptance means instead of seeing us as outsiders, broken, the world could embrace our way of being. That does not mean denying that we have needs, that we need accommodations, big and small, that we might need more than a little help. Autistics are trying to be seen as full human beings, because we are – qualities and deficits, like everyone else. And we belong to humanity. We know that. The rest of the world needs to learn. They need to accept us, as we are.

Autism Acceptance means that parents will look at the Autistic child and acknowledge that the child belongs in that family. It means making room for the child, the whole child.

Autism Acceptance means that schools will acknowledge that an Autistic child deserves an inclusive education and that autism is not a set of deficits. All children belong in an educational setting.

Autism Acceptance means that we will be valued for the things we do well and not stigmatized because we do certain things in a non-typical way. We are not typical but this does not mean we are not capable, competent, creative. We belong in the work force, we belong in colleges, as students and professors, we belong in the arts. Accept our unique vision.

Autism Acceptance means that those of us who cannot speak and who might need more time and support to achieve our goals, or who might experience severe anxiety, leading to acts of self-injurious behavior or maybe become violent, will still be respected for who we are, will be given the supports we need, because we all belong to the same group: humans. And we all have the right to dignity.

Autism Acceptance means that our decisions about our lives are heard and respected. It means that our lives is worth living and we decide that. We belong. We are humans. We have the right to our lives.

Autism Acceptance means belonging because the opposite of it would mean that Autistics should not exist. And this would be oppression.

Autism Acceptance is belonging. Accept that – because we are here, we exist, we belong to the human race.

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