Lara Schaeffer

Autism Acceptance: Why Society Needs to Be More Informed and Inclusive

Sep 21, 2023
A busy street scene representing society which Lara Schaeffer argues needs to do better with autism acceptance.

Autism acceptance is not just a slogan or a hashtag. It is a vital and urgent need for millions of autistic people around the world who face challenges and barriers in their daily lives. Autism acceptance means recognizing and respecting the diversity and dignity of autistic individuals and providing them with the support and opportunities they deserve.


The Journey of Autism Acceptance for Late-Diagnosed Autistic People

Thanks to the availability of more information and resources about autism, many people who were previously undiagnosed or misdiagnosed have been discovering that they are autistic in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and older. This realization can help them better understand their strengths and struggles and find a sense of identity and community.

However, being aware of one’s autism is not enough. Inclusion and acceptance by society and mental health practitioners are also necessary for autistic people but are frequently lacking. According to a 2022 study by researcher Daniel Gilmore and his colleagues, “the healthcare system is unprepared to accommodate the unique needs of autistic adults,” and this applies not only to America but to many other countries as well. The study found that treatments that work for non-autistic people may be ineffective or even harmful for autistic people and that providers should become more educated about autism.


How Autism Acceptance Changed My Life and Society for the Better

1. My Diagnosis and Discovery of Autism

Autism acceptance is not only a matter of social justice but also a personal responsibility. As an autistic person myself, I know how much it means to be accepted and valued for who I am. I also know how much it hurts to be rejected or ignored because of my autism.

I was diagnosed with autism when I was 47 years old, after years of feeling different and misunderstood. I had difficulties making friends, fitting in, and expressing myself. My days were filled with anxiety. I did not know why I was the way I was or why I felt wrong in so many ways when I was around other people.

When I learned that I was autistic, everything changed. I finally had an explanation for my experiences and challenges. I realized that I was not alone, but part of a diverse and amazing community. I discovered my strengths and passions and pursued them with confidence. I embraced my identity and celebrated my uniqueness.


2. My Challenges and Barriers in Society

My struggle with autism acceptance was difficult. I also faced many obstacles and barriers in society. I encountered ignorance and prejudice from people who did not understand or respect autism. I struggled to find adequate support and services for my needs. I faced discrimination and exclusion in various aspects of life.


3. My Passion and Duty for Autism Acceptance

That is why I am passionate about promoting autism acceptance around the world. I want to share my story, raise awareness about autism, educate people, challenge stereotypes about autism, and advocate for the rights and needs of autistic people. I want to support and empower other autistic people in their journeys of autism acceptance.

Autism acceptance is not a favor or a charity. It is a human right and a moral duty. It is something that we all need to practice and promote, whether we are autistic or not. Autism acceptance is not only proper for autistic people but for everyone.


The Need for Autism Acceptance in Different Sectors of Society

Healthcare is not the only sector that needs to improve its autism acceptance. Education, employment, law enforcement, justice, and media are some of the other areas where autistic people face discrimination, misunderstanding, and exclusion.


1. Autism Acceptance in Education

Many autistic students struggle in school settings that are not designed for their learning styles and sensory needs. They may also face bullying, isolation, or misunderstandings from teachers and peers. It happens because of their different behaviors or communication styles. Autism acceptance in education means providing autistic students with appropriate accommodations, support, and opportunities to succeed academically and socially. It also means respecting their individuality, interests, and goals.


2. Autism Acceptance in Employment

Autism acceptance is also important in the employment sector. Autistic adults often have difficulties finding or keeping a job that matches their skills and interests. They often face harassment or unfair treatment at work. Autism acceptance in employment means creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce that values the contributions of autistic employees. It also means offering them reasonable adjustments, mentoring, and career development.


3. Autism Acceptance in Law Enforcement and Justice

Another sector that needs to improve its autism acceptance is law enforcement and justice. An autistic person's behavior or communication may be misinterpreted by emergency personnel or law enforcement personnel. It sometimes leads to potentially fatal or catastrophic results. Autism acceptance in law enforcement and justice means training and educating these professionals on how to recognize and interact with autistic people safely and respectfully. It also means ensuring that autistic people have access to fair and unbiased legal representation, advocacy, and support.


4. Autism Acceptance in Media

Autism acceptance is also relevant in the media sector. The media often portrays autistic people inaccurately or in stereotypical ways, which can have an impact on public attitudes. Autism acceptance in the media means portraying autistic people accurately and authentically without sensationalizing or stigmatizing them. It also means amplifying their voices and stories and celebrating their diversity and achievements.


5. Autism Acceptance in Society

All these examples show why acceptance of autism is essential for society. Autistic people are part of society, and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. It means not only being aware of autism but also being informed and inclusive. It means listening to autistic voices, learning from autistic perspectives, and supporting autistic rights. It means creating a world where autistic people can thrive and contribute to society in their unique ways.


How You Can Promote Autism Acceptance

If you want to promote autism acceptance in your community, here are some things you can do:

  • Educate yourself and others about autism- Read books, articles, blogs, or social media posts by autistic authors. Watch documentaries or videos featuring autistic people. Attend events or webinars hosted by autistic organizations or advocates.

  • Challenge myths and stereotypes about autism- Correct misinformation or misconceptions that you encounter online or offline. Speak up against the stigma or discrimination that you witness or experience.

  • Celebrate diversity and inclusion- Appreciate the different ways that autistic people think, feel, communicate, and act. Do not make assumptions about what an autistic person wants or needs, and instead ask them. Respect their preferences, boundaries, and choices. Recognize their talents, passions, and achievements.

  • Support autistic causes and initiatives- Donate to or volunteer for autistic-led groups or projects that advocate for autistic rights and needs. Sign petitions or join campaigns that call for policy changes or social justice for autistic people.

  • Be an ally and a friend- Reach out to autistic people in your family, school, workplace, or neighborhood. Offer your help, empathy, or companionship. Listen to their stories, opinions, or concerns.

Conclusion: Autism Acceptance is the Way Forward

In this blog post, I have discussed why accepting autism is vital and urgent for millions of autistic people who face challenges and barriers in their daily lives. I have also explained what autism acceptance means and how it can be promoted in different sectors of society, such as healthcare, education, employment, law enforcement, justice, and the media. I have also shared my personal story of accepting autism, how it changed my life, and how I hope to contribute to changing society for the better.

Thank you for reading this blog post about autism acceptance. If you liked it, please share it with your friends and family. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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