I have to say that when I first started my path to autism, I knew nothing about autism awareness and autism acceptance. The fact that I didn’t know quietly tore me up a little about how unaware I was. In the end, for all I knew, it was far deeper than I could ever imagine.
Let me be clear: I firmly sit on side of autism acceptance. Autism awareness does absolutely nothing for me. I can be aware of anything most days. Making sure people are aware of something is easy. Telling people about autism is easy.
Acceptance is and has always been harder for me personally. It took me years to accept my own autism. It was hard work. It required self-awareness. It required facing hard truths about myself, my blind spots, and my past.
So when someone says autism awareness and autism acceptance are the same thing, I disagree.
My family is aware of my autism. It doesn’t mean that they accept it.
I was aware of my autism. It didn’t mean that I accepted it.
Society is aware of autism. It doesn’t equal acceptance in society.
To me, that effort matters. Acceptance matters. And as I watch this month play out yet again, I have to keep reminding myself that my overwhelming desire to have autism acceptance is not something everyone will share. That doesn’t mean that they are bad people. It merely means a difference of opinion and stances.