April 17, 2015

Doesn't Awareness Lead to Acceptance?

Clipart by Melonheadz Illustrating LLC 2014

I'm a little nervous to hit publish on this, so let me just ask you to read with an open mind and refrain from any nasty comments please!  Respectful disagreement is absolutely welcome.

Some of you would be surprised at the amount of times I have seen people get upset or offended about autism awareness month.  I know it sounds weird.  What problem could people have about autism awareness?  Let me explain.  They saying things like, "I'm sick of people saying we need autism awareness.  We need acceptance."  This has been said, with annoyance, directed right at me (but not on this blog, so no need to go searching for a juicy comment!)  

I do get where they're coming from.

I completely agree that we need acceptance.  Of course we do.  But, doesn't autism awareness lead to acceptance of autism?  Don't we need our friends, family, and society in general to be aware of what autism is?  What the symptoms are?  How many people are affected?  What this means for the families?  What sort of modifications are necessary?  Being aware of all of these things leads to acceptance.

We autism parents have deeply personal opinions about vaccinations, a cure, whether or not Autism Speaks is evil, etc.  I understand the debate among these issues, and it is healthy and productive to have them as long as they are respectful.  But with Autism Awareness Month here, it is disheartening to come across comments around something as powerful as awareness.  The negativity that surrounds picking apart these words could be time well spent on spreading awareness and acceptance of autism.

Saying you have acceptance for people with autism is wonderful, but we should except all people for who they are.  That said, educating people about autism - making them aware of what autism is - will help them to truly accept people with autism on a deep and personal level.  Acceptance that rises above superficial level or a generalization of accepting all people for their differences.  Don't you want to know what differences your accepting?

Whatever you do to embrace autism, whether is wear a bracelet, volunteer, put a Facebook cover page on your profile, or read a blog to learn more about autism, I applaud you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


  1. I agree with you - awareness is absolutely the first step. I think what people get frustrated about is that the "powers that be" that promote Autism Awareness Month don't then take any steps towards promoting understanding and acceptance. Without those actions, I think it for a lot of people it starts to feel like lip service. Great post! Thank you! :-)

    1. I can understand that. By "powers that be," do you mean certain autism organizations?


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