Image description: photo of a parent and child standing side by side in a sunny field, with their arms raised and outstretched as they gaze at each other. Text says, “Parents who practice acceptance will not allow anyone to devalue their children. They will not allow anyone to value their children on the basis of what they can do, but on the basis of their humanity. - Amy Sequenzia, awnnetwork.org”

Autism Acceptance – It Requires Action

It has been a long time since Autistics started saying that Autism Awareness is not enough.

Image description: photo of a parent and child standing side by side in a sunny field, with their arms raised and outstretched as they gaze at each other. Text says, “Parents who practice acceptance will not allow anyone to devalue their children. They will not allow anyone to value their children on the basis of what they can do, but on the basis of their humanity. - Amy Sequenzia, awnnetwork.org”
Image description: photo of a parent and child standing side by side in a sunny field, with their arms raised and outstretched as they gaze at each other. Text says, “Parents who practice acceptance will not allow anyone to devalue their children. They will not allow anyone to value their children on the basis of what they can do, but on the basis of their humanity. – Amy Sequenzia, awnnetwork.org”

It has been a long time since Autistics started saying that Autism Awareness actually hurts us.

Nothing much has changed in the so-called Autism Advocacy Organizations (not the ones like the hate group Autism Speaks, but the ones that call themselves “allies of the Autistic community”).

They still use “Awareness” and puzzle pieces when talking about us.

They still focus on the latest scary numbers that tell the world how much of a tragic epidemic we are.

Even if some of these organizations added the word ‘Acceptance’ to their campaigns to raise money, and they sometimes share Autistic writings and art, supposedly to “give us a voice”, there is a big problem:

They “give us a voice” to raise money while using all the pathologizing language that implies that we need to “become better”. Better what? Better human beings? Better fake neurotypical?

They “give us a voice” but they still support torturous practices, like ABA – to “make us better”, I guess?

They “give us a voice”, as long as we are “nice”, “understanding of parents’ feelings,” and not too loud.

They still believe we need them to “give us a voice”, something that is rightfully ours.

So, Autism Advocacy Organizations are not practicing Acceptance. They use the word but they don’t act on it. That is not true Autism Acceptance.

I think there are some positive changes in parents’ attitudes. Some of them are really trying to understand their Autistic children, and trying to find ways to support the children without breaking them. They are learning and embracing Neurodiversity. Still, many parents still don’t understand, and don’t want to learn, about neurodiversity.

The positive:

I see parents reaching out to Autistic adults and asking thoughtful questions. Some of them get back to us with feedback, or more questions. I feel actual joy when a parent tells me that their child is much happier, or more relaxed, or that things are improving after the parent changed their view and rejected the “bewareness” warnings.

This is because these parents acted on their words.

They listened to us, Autistic adults, and they saw which input provided was applicable to their children.

They spent time thinking about how to better *act* on Autism Acceptance.

They tried, maybe they failed a few times, then they tried again. Maybe they are still trying to find the best approaches that can help their children to be the best Autistic self they can be.

These parents don’t use the word ‘Acceptance’ to look good on social media.

They live acceptance.

They don’t judge their children by comparing them to neurotypical children – or even to other Autistics.

They don’t give up.

They support the Autistic community because this is their children’s community, and they know how they want their children to be treated by the neuromajority.

Some of these Autistic children are also very disabled, like me. Some of them will need 24-hour care, like I do. Maybe they will not be able to “live independently” – as defined by the normalizing society.

This is why acting on autism acceptance is important.

Parents who practice acceptance will not allow schools, aides and services providers to get away with anything that is not fully inclusive and respectful of the child’s neurology. By inclusive I mean understanding that Autistic brains do not process information in the same way as a neurotypical brain. By respectful I mean allowing them to be Autistic.

Parents who practice acceptance will not allow anyone to devalue their children. They will not allow anyone to value their children on the basis of what they can do, but on the basis of their humanity.

Parents who practice acceptance will not give their children ultimatums, or timelines, or goals, based on neurotypical expectations.

Parents who practice acceptance will put their children first, without trying to erase the essence of the child.

Parents who practice acceptance are not super heroes. They can get frustrated sometimes but they recognize their children’s humanity and direct their frustrations to an ableist society. Ableism is not disabled people’s creation.

Acceptance is not a just word.
Autism Acceptance is an action.


About the Author, Amy Sequenzia

6 thoughts on “Autism Acceptance – It Requires Action”

  1. I agree with every word. I co-parent an awesome eight year old with many support needs. He is my joy and my heart. Autism is just one of the things he is, along with intelligent, caring, silly and a charmer. Thank you for acknowledging the carers that aren’t looking for pity or “hero awards”. The ONLY thing I want for my little guy is to have the opportunity to have a happy, fulfilling life. I’ll be there supporting & encouraging him every step.

  2. Wow, thank you for your powerful post. Our family is just starting out on this journey toward learning about autism. We (myself and two of my grown children) have been living with autism for a lifetime, but didn’t know why we were so different.

    Your words help bring clarity and act a signpost pointing to which road to travel as we move forward. Thank you for shining a light on the conflicting messages out there from the public “advocacy” groups.

  3. PLUS, Autism Speaks uses acceptance as “accept that your child has an autism diagnosis, but don’t accept autism itself.”

    That’s like saying “accept that your child likes to wear dresses, but don’t accept that they’re transgender” or “accept that your daughter likes girls, but don’t except that she’s a lesbian” and it’s so disgusting.

    Either people accept everything about someone or they don’t truly accept that person.

    I think so many parents would do so much better if they stopped worrying about how their autistic child makes them look and instead worry about meeting the child’s needs.

    Bang on awesome entry, as always! 🙂

  4. I noticed also in the past ten years or so it has become fashionable to throw the word ‘acceptance’ around. Regardless of whether you actually accept autistic people or autism. It reminds me of developmental disability professionals who throw around ‘self-determination’ while (sometimes in the exact same sentence!) trying to force DD people to do what the professionals want us to do. People learn that the language of self-advocacy — or language they wrongly associate with self-advocacy — sells, so they try to sell things with it. Whether sell things literally for money, or sell ideas about themselves or their organizations as forward-thinking and positive.

  5. I love reading your articles. Your dedication to autistic activism makes me feel like I’m not alone, wanting the best for the people of my neurotype.

  6. I am 70 years old, and I have always known I was different. It was just a few weeks ago that I had an experience that caused me to do a lot of googling. I already knew that I was ADD. Then I came across a book that sounded just like the life I had suffered as the family Scapegoat. But this last experience led me to autism. Thank goodness this was not identified when I was young because the worst thing that can happen to you is to be labeled. Also it enables you to find ways to get through life, and about the worst thing that can happen is that people will think that you are odd. This is not to say that I didn’t have a Terri le childhood, because I did. No one really liked me including my own family. Mine is a very long and different story, and of course, no two of us are alike anyway. Just to give myself some creds, in spite of having an IQ of near 70 I taught high school and junior high for 34 years. I must add that I am a Christian, and I know that none of this would have happened had I not been. So I can’t really help anyone with alternative beliefs because I know that nothing can be solved otherwise. I will say that the main thing I lack in life is social skills, and that is the only thing that has been a real hindrance in mine life. I do live alone and have one friend that I can confide in, but other than that I am happier and safer being antisocial. I do wish that I could help others who are going through this, but I don’t yet know how I can.

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