This April, like every April for the past 5 years, I asked myself: What should l share with friends and family for Autism Awareness Month? Lately, my focus is how to move from awareness to acceptance.
Acceptance and Awareness
When I think about awareness verses acceptance, I think that awareness is a simple knowledge that autism exists. Acceptance, however, is embracing the neurological differences that come with autism. Acceptance is finding ways to utilize everyone’s unique differences to enhance their overall life experiences.
In reality, acceptance does not exist without awareness. The next question I ask myself is: How can I increase awareness within my community? As a family, we do all the autism awareness fundraisers and walks. My husband and I have also provided presentations to the Parent Action Group at our children’s school. I advocate for my daughter and talk to anyone that wants to listen about our experience.
Generally, I seek knowledge and understanding by reading books and articles or watching shows and movies. I learned a lot about adults on the spectrum through reading and watching. My husband and I spend countless hours researching autism and what it is like to be autistic because we want to know what my daughter is experiencing.
I recommend a book and two shows to increase your autism awareness: The Reason I Jump: One Boy’s Voice from the Silence of Autism (Book), Love on the Spectrum (Netflix), and Atypical (Netflix).
The Reason I Jump
The Reason I Jump is written by a 13-year-old non-verbal autistic boy from Japan. Published in 2007 and later translated to English, this is a perfect way to begin to understand the inner workings of the autistic brain. The book is presented in a series of 58 questions about autism that Naoki answers. It is a quick easy read. The book contains some grammar issues that are attributed to the translation from Japanese and Naoki’s nonverbal disposition. A must-read if you are starting to familiarize yourself with the autism spectrum.
Love on the Spectrum
Love On The Spectrum is a reality TV show on Netflix that follows several autistic adults in Australia that are looking for love. It is a heartwarming show that details some of the many challenges autistic people face in relationships. It also shows how these individuals get help from behavior specialists to work on their interaction skills. No matter what your difficulties are, everyone wants to be loved. Geez, dating is hard for anyone, but these brave souls pour their hearts into the process.
Atypical is a heartfelt Netflix original comedy about a teenage boy on the autism spectrum. Although this is a fiction work, Netflix did a wonderful job accurately portraying issues people on the spectrum face. Sam the main charter faces high school and the nuances in dealing with people. Overall, he faces many of the same life challenges we all face, but with coping mechanisms and perspective. This show has lots of laughs and a few tears throughout the series.
I hope you take some time to learn more about the perspective and challenges that people on the spectrum face. Instead of trying to change an autistic person to adapt to our world, maybe we can change ourselves to be more open and inclusive to different ways of doing things. I also encourage you to read this post: What do I call you? How to Communicate About Autism.