April is Autism Awareness Month, or as some say, Autism Acceptance Month.
For me, I think it’s OK to say both.
You see, without autism awareness, how can we have autism acceptance?
People don’t know what they don’t know.
Until our son was diagnosed, I knew very little about autism.
I’m far from an expert and I learn from our son every single day.
I’m also learning from autistic adults and listening to their stories.
Learning from their lived experiences and the impact it had on them growing up.
As a parent of an autistic child, the autism community can be overwhelming sometimes.
The division I see is upsetting and hurtful.
How can one person or small group, speak for an entire community?
EVERYONE in the community deserves to have a voice and speak their truth.
I believe we ultimately all want the same things.
Acceptance. Inclusion. Equality. Kindness.
In a world that is filled with discrimination and judgment, wouldn’t it be nice to try something different?
To flip the script of constant comparison and judging parents and replace them with words of encouragement?
My hope for today, and every day, is that we can advocate TOGETHER as a community.
To champion side by side inspiring people to embrace differences.
To respect one another, even when we have different opinions.
To have open conversations about the hard things and be mindful of each others feelings and beliefs.
There shouldn’t be a “my way or the highway” mentality when it comes to discussions about autism.
This community should be a safe space for autistic individuals AND parents.
There’s enough room at the table for all of us.
To share our different journeys and learn from one another.
How can we expect others to be kind and accepting of our autistic loved ones if our own community tears each other apart?
We’re on the same team my friends, and it’s time we start acting like it.
Let’s be the change we want to see in this world.
So that one day, this harmful division is a thing of the past.
And we can finally be a community of strong self advocates and parents that work together.
A community that my son will be PROUD to be a part of.