For the last couple of years, I’ve really been pushing the idea of taking awareness of Autism and upgrading it to understanding and acceptance. I truly believe that, while awareness is a great start, it’s simply not enough in that, being aware of something doesn’t necessarily mean you understand it. And what most autistics need is some level of understanding and, of course, acceptance of who they are.
The thing is, you don’t have to necessarily understand every nuance about Autism… it would be nice. If everyone just instantly knew all about Autism, acceptance would be a breeze. But you don’t have to.
What you do have to understand is that there is a reason.
When you see someone acting strangely on the street corner, when you see someone being mean and rude in general, when you see someone hitting themself, when you see a person being… not what you expect… there is a reason.
Perhaps the person has a disability/special need, perhaps the person had a really bad day (fired, family member died, lost everything), perhaps the person simply is the way they are… it is not personal. It’s nothing against you.
All you need to do is understand that there is a reason. Rather than say “that person is weird” or to think about how what they’re doing affects you… instead, ask yourself what the reason could be. Perhaps it’s bigger than you think. Perhaps it’s not. But there is a reason.
It’s not always Autism… so it’s not just for autistics that I push for understanding.
But I do know this. If people stop judging and take a moment for greater understanding when they see an autistic acting “against the norm”… then perhaps those people will take a moment for greater understanding in all circumstances.
Don’t let someone lashing out at you affect your day. They had a reason and it wasn’t you. Don’t let someone acting strangely affect how you see people. They have a reason… they’re not strange.
Greater understanding… it starts when you stop taking it personally and judging the person for it.
With understanding comes acceptance… once you come to understand how a person is, how they think and who they are… you accept them. You may wish to avoid the person who lashes out at strangers when they have a bad day, but you accept them for that.
Same with people with special needs, or even just regular every day people who go about their life differently than you do.
They have a reason for being who they are just as much as you have a reason for being who you are. And if you understand that, you can accept that.
I want for people to accept me for who I am just as much as I want for people to accept my children for who they are. Not because one has Autism and not because one does not. But because they are who they are.
If you can gain understanding and acceptance for just one new person, someone you see as different than yourself, someone you do not yet know… then you can do it for anyone and everyone.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Autism, Tourettes, Down Syndrome, political differences, religious differences… anything! If you can gain greater understanding and acceptance of anyone… you have the tools necessary to do that for everyone.
Be quick to to understand…. not judge.