Autism acceptance and awareness: Hi everyone! This is my first blog in a while. I was doing work for my internship and was preoccupied with other things. This explains why I wasn’t posting on here for a long time.
Anyways, I wanted to post about a topic that has especially been on my mind a lot of this year, given that autism has strongly affected my whole life. Do people accept autism more now?
Autism: How is awareness and acceptance doing?
I must say, people certainly seem be more aware of what ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is compared to a decade or even five years ago.
As for acceptance, it seems to depend on how open-minded the person is. Like many things, people from various backgrounds and cultures will have different opinions about autism and its symptoms.
Open-minded vs. close-minded people
If there is one thing that seems to be consistent to me, however, it is that people who are open-minded seem to accept people on the spectrum more than close-minded people.
What I said above makes sense because close-minded people often think they are always right. They are often unwilling to accept anything different from them.
Open-minded people, on the other hand, may think, “Oh, I didn’t know that! Interesting!” They are not afraid to admit they can sometimes be wrong.
In connection with autism acceptance, open-minded people are more willing to learn about how the condition affects those involved.
Autism: The harsh realities
Unfortunately, even some people who understand autism and its symptoms can still be hateful towards people like me.
This, fortunately, has generally applied more to people I’ve encountered online. They still act as if we are purposely trying to be bad or deliberately ignore social norms.
The reality is, autistic people, tend to be less aware of social norms. They usually take much longer to pick up on them compared to their normal peers.
Social rules and standards tend to change every year too. Even if a child masters social awareness in third grade, they have to start over in fourth grade.
I had a “friend” from high school who used to bully and torment me during most of it. He especially did so in grade 9 gym.
A couple of weeks ago, he went out of his way to follow me on Instagram, and eventually, friend request me on Facebook.
I accepted these requests because I ran into him on the transit bus back in late June. He was nicer to me. We talked on the bus for about 10 minutes. He actually seemed like a completely different person compared to what he was like in high school, and in a good way.
Okay, so I accepted the social media requests, then what happened? A week later, I see my Facebook profile and realize that I have one less friend.
Instantly, I figured out it was him not on there because when you view your Facebook page, the newest Facebook friends appear on your profile friend collage. I searched for him both online and offline, then discovered he blocked me.
I was shocked, but I didn’t really dwell on it since I never trusted him anyway. You’d think that a 26-year-old would be far more mature and open-minded than they were in high school. The harsh reality is, however, some people remain jerks.
This dude is well aware that I am on the spectrum, deep-down understands that I am not purposely trying to not conform to social norms, yet still mysteriously blocks me on Facebook when we haven’t had a single negative interaction in eight years.
He didn’t remove me on Instagram, but I removed him as a subtle way to let him know that I am aware of what he did on Facebook.
There are still people, mostly teenagers, who will use the terms “autistic” or “retard” as an insult.
I try not to let this get to me as much as I did a long time ago because I understand where most of it comes from: People who have insecurities with their own lives and want to put down weaker society members to feed their own egos. They can’t find more acceptable ways to deal with their issues.
My point is, some people will never get it even if they understand autism or why you are different. They will purposely shut down anyone different.
For people’s ignorance of autism in the GTA, it also doesn’t help that Alek Minassian is on the spectrum. This may have lead some people to think that autism was the reason for that awful attack last year. However, premeditated violence is extremely rare with autistic people.
Autism doesn’t excuse violence, but we can’t create stigmas for the rest of a population who has not even done anything so incredibly stupid.
Autism: The positives
On the more positive side of the coin, I’ve met peers in recent years who have been more accommodating towards my differences. This is especially true compared to high school and elementary school.
I think my peers respecting me more has a lot to do with the fact that my autism symptoms aren’t quite as severe now as they were back then. Maybe I’ve been lucky to associate with more open-minded people as well.
In journalism school, which I attended, for example, you do have to have an open mind if you want to be successful in the journalism industry. You get to learn about a variety of different topics from sources as well as their perspectives on them. Yes, this does include autism.
My former journalism classmates (I will attend graduation this coming October) know I am autistic, and they seem to care less.
I can’t say I am close friends with any of them as I still struggle with social skills. However, compared to some of my other school years, I am relieved that I have at least some open-minded peers to talk to if I need them.
Compared to a decade ago, I must say that autism acceptance and especially awareness has gone uphill. However, we will still encounter ignorant, close-minded people who will never get it now and then.
Looking into the future
Hopefully, people on the spectrum will eventually be able to make and keep friends, as well as find and keep employment easier.
I can only hope there will be a day where there will no longer be news stories about people in institutions abusing autistic people (Seemingly every week these stories come up on my Facebook feed). I also don’t want to learn disturbing statistics such as “86 per cent of autistic people are unemployed” anymore.
The instances above are some of the reasons why I can’t stress enough that autism acceptance, not just awareness, is extremely important. We deserve to function in society just like anyone else.
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