I just put the finishing touches on the first of many different classes that I believe to be my life’s work. While helping people uncover their purpose is the biggie, I also have a strong desire to educate others about autism. The training I finished up tonight is the latter.
I drew this from the many experiences I have observed, participated in, and read about from those on the spectrum. I don’t like just getting up and spewing facts and diagnostic criteria. I really want people to understand what the autism experience is like, and in understanding, learn to approach with acceptance rather than judgement or fear.
Despite the years of Autism Awareness Month, I am quickly learning that many people still have no real idea of what autism is. In fact, their understanding is limited to Rain Man and “out of control” kids, and that’s about it. Kids have started using the word “autistic” as an online insult, much in the way that “retarded” was used in the past. For all of the walks and fundraising that is done every April, why is it that such a large percent of the population do not have a more accepting view of it?
I kind of answered my own question there: awareness and acceptance are two different ideas. I have definitely seen evidence that a lot of people are aware that autism exists; I think that goal has been fairly well achieved. It’s time to switch gears to acceptance. Unfortunately, the very agencies that started the awareness campaign do not seem too keen on promoting acceptance of autism. They’d prefer if it was “cured.”
I find myself in a unique position to change the narrative, a few people at a time. I have the opportunity to help shape a different way of looking at not just autism, but the power of human spirit and potential overall.
The awesome thing is, so do you.
Conversations on Facebook have opened and challenged some of my friends to think beyond their ideas of what “special needs” really means. I have other friends who do this everyday as well. We can make a difference. We can teach others. Speak your stories. Share your knowledge. This goes triple if you are on the spectrum yourself, because YOU are the expert on it. Not me, not a BCBA. YOU. Everything I learned, I learned from my clients. They have taught me and made me a better person.
I went off on a bit of a tangent, which is typical for me after midnight, so I’ll end by saying that I am super excited about tomorrow (a little nervous as well), and that hopefully all will go well.