[Image description: Alanna wears red sunglasses and holds a sign that reads: “#LoveNotFear #PeopleNotPuzzles #acceptanceNOTawareness #autism #AutisticPride #Autistic #ActuallyAutistic #AutismAcceptance #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs !! #selfadvocacy #Neurodiversity #WalkInRed #BoycottAutismSpeaks #understanding #IDontNeedACure #AAM #disability #AcceptanceIs #AutisticSpectrum ~ with added doodles of hearts, a star, a rainbow, a flower, a peace symbol, yin yang symbol, infinity symbol that also looks like a pair of eyes, a crossed-out puzzle piece and a brain with a hashtag in the centre of it.”]
[Image description: Sign reads “I like being Autistic Because: I like myself, all complexities and human traits that make me, me. -Amy Sequenzia”]
[Image description: A person named Ben Maurice Jacobson wrote on a sign that says “I like being autistic because ‘Nobudy else in my family has atusum and my family all is juish!'”]
[Image description: A person holding a sign reading “Autism Acceptance is: Love & Patience & Encouragement”]
[Image description: A person holding a sign that reads “Autism Acceptance Is: One Love * No Limit * Acceptance * Equal Rights * Education * Learning”]
[Image description: A sign reading “autism acceptance is Love & Family”]
[Image description: A sign reading “Autism Acceptance Is: When you see me, you respect me. When you hear me, you respect me. Acceptance is Respect. – Amy Sequenzia”]
Acceptance is valuing one another
by Jenn Jones
When my son was diagnosed with Autism at 2 years of age, I was already aware of what Autism was. I had a friend in my neighborhood whose son had been diagnosed a few years prior to my son being diagnosed. As I sat in the psychologist’s office after the 4-hour assessment, listening to the psychologist describe my son, I felt like someone finally saw him; saw him as I saw him, with all his wonderful attributes, quirks, and inflections, his patterns of thinking, his unique way of reasoning and seeing. I cried. I cried because someone was finally telling me what I already knew, instead of, “He’ll grow out of it,” or “My son did that, and he’s fine.” I didn’t cry out of sadness; I cried from relief. Now we could move forward.
The psychologists recommendations for my son were speech therapy, occupational therapy, and floortime if he had not had two older sisters constantly engaging him. And then she talked about specific things I could do at home, one of which was not allowing him to engage me in repetitive conversations; she said I should mix it up and say something crazy and outrageous. I was surprised, and I asked why. My son loved these repetitive conversations; it was one of the few times I could get a good belly laugh out of him. The psychologist said he was getting trapped in that comfort zone of repetitive conversations and it was a form of stimming. My mind parted ways from hers at that moment, and though I wanted to help my son be all that he could be, I didn’t want to change him or withhold the joy he took from our give-and-take.
So while my neighborhood friend was on a mission to find a “cure” for her son, I followed my own path with my son; one of acceptance, support, love and patience. We were both aware of autism, but I chose acceptance. My son is now 4 years old, and we still have the same repetitive conversations. They slowly change over time; new conversations are added, and old conversations drop off. Granted, we have lots of other conversations as well, but I won’t deny my son his method of communication and connection simply because other people deem it atypical. I will continue our funny, quirky, repeated conversations as long as he wants to repeat them.
[Image description: A person holding a sign reading “Autism Acceptance is: No limit to LOVE.”]
[Image description: A sign reading “I Like Being Autistic Because: It’s Part of who I am. My friends are autistic, too. (We’re mostly on the same wavelength because of it.) Being Autistic has helped me endure” This sign is signed, “Kyla was here!!!” with an abstract face drawing next to it.]