[Image description: An acrostic poem spelling out ACCEPTANCE IS with a word for each letter:
[Image description: An acrostic poem spelling out AUTISM with a word for each letter:
What do I like about being autistic?
by Alanna Rose Whitney
I do NOT like my neurology being compared to cancer, being told I don’t look autistic, hearing non-autistic people speak about us without us – I could go on – but those aren’t really things I don’t like about autism, they are things I don’t like about the attitude towards it.
Much the same can be said for having meltdowns in public; I highly doubt any autistic people enjoy the experience but the underlying cause is typically a lack of supports and understanding, not just autism itself. Beyond that, sensory overload is inextricably linked to hypersensitivity – and hypersensitivity can be a very good thing for all sorts of reasons.
Like many autistics, I can take a great amount of pleasure from just stimming or from simple sensations that many often take for granted. I have never needed to be told to “stop and smell the roses,” “savour the taste” or “look at the big picture” because those things are just in my nature.
I am also able to employ my attention to detail in many practical applications. Visual and pattern-thinking both are very useful in many ways for many different purposes.
I like the intensity of my emotions, too. When I feel happy it is like pure, effervescent joy. Yes, I also get very sad or very angry sometimes, but those feelings just serve to underline issues that I am passionate about and help direct me towards a better purpose in life.
I am open-minded even though I am set in my routines, I am philosophical, I am excited to learn and do and try new things and I am kind without being a total pushover. I am an artist because creativity flows through my veins and an entrepreneur because that freedom to exercise willfulness is as essential to my well being as the very air I breathe.
I am disabled and not only am I okay with that, but I am PROUD. The difference in how much better I feel after accepting my limitations is astounding and learning how to accommodate my disabilities is precisely what makes it possible for me to fully pursue my interests and talents. Overall, the disabled community is welcoming and tough, wise and determined, supportive and honest – and I am lucky to be a part of it.
I like having special interests, stimming and doing things repetitively, experiencing the depth of complexity within things like food or music, being able to remember tons of useful facts and finding unique ways to say or do things.
I have never once wished to be normal – I have only ever wanted to be accepted for who I am. But never having had some desire to alter the very essence of my being to suit social norms doesn’t mean that I haven’t hoped to feel included and understood. Of course there were and still are hardships, many of which fall into the category of preventable injustices, but it’s less about overcoming obstacles than it is about appreciation and perspective.
[Image description: An acrostic poem spelling out AUTISTIC with a word for each letter:
[Image description: An acrostic poem spelling out LOVE NOT FEAR with a word for each letter:
“I’ve Got Something”
by Gabriel Call, Grade 4
I’m different from the class, and the class doesn’t know it. I think differently because…
I’ve got something,
I’ve got something.
The thing I have has its own day; its own month.
The symbol is a rainbow puzzle piece.
The thing I’ve had from birth.
I’ve got something,
I’ve got something.
You cannot buy the thing.
You can’t take the thing away.
You can’t ask for it.
People don’t know how to get it.
It is given by birth.
I don’t know where it came from,
Or who gave it.
The thing I’ve got is…
[Image description: An acrostic poem spelling out NEURODIVERSE with a word for each letter:
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: An acrostic poem spelling out SELF ADVOCACY with a word for each letter:
[Image description: An acrostic poem spelling out SPECTRUM with a word for each letter:
Thank you to everyone for all of your submissions and for joining us in celebrating neurodivergence and promoting acceptance this April! We now have a total of 1,039 signatures from people pledging to only attend, speak at or otherwise participate in autism panels, conferences and events that meaningfully involve Autistic people. Now that Autism Acceptance Month is over, it’s up to all of us to keep the momentum going and spead acceptance all year round.