Greetings one and all, I am Samantha Bodwell an Autistic adult, diagnosed in my mid-30s and the Autistic keeper of this page.
I am the sole Autistic on the board of the Autism Society of Northern Virginia; I was elected to that board in April of 2011, due to my local involvement in the Autism Community. As a result of my suggestion and further urging the board voted unanimously in November of 2011 to rename April, Autism Acceptance Month, in Northern Virginia and it was all due to my efforts. Autism Awareness has been achieved, almost everyone is “aware” of Autism; the next true step for, my community, the Autistic Community is Autism Acceptance! I am very proud of the change. On April 28th in Fredericksburg, VA, I read a speech I had written about Autism Acceptance at the Autism Society of Northern Virginia’s first-ever Autism Acceptance Walk.
In addition I was instrumental in the renaming of an annual Autism day, in April, at the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C. I wrote to the chairman of the local parents group that hosts the event there and put forth my suggestion, she in turn put it to her board and they voted unanimously to rename their event Autism Acceptance day, at the aquarium. This event is unlike any other Autism event because no money goes to any outside organization; it instead stays at the aquarium where it can be used for educational purposes and upkeep.
Finally, I wrote to all of the local school districts in my area and told them that April is now to be referred to as Autism Acceptance Month; I heard back from a goodly number and received very positive feedback. Now that it is May I have written back to the school systems and have asked what they did during April and I am starting to receive replies.
The rest of the world discriminates against us, ours is a hidden disability and therefore when we are acting as our true selves we are ridiculed or feared. Many Autistics who can “pass as a Neurotypical person” are doing so; they are hiding their true nature to conform, expending so much energy trying to fit in that they have been known to burn out from exhaustion, there are many blogs that attest to this. Some refer to themselves as being “closeted” or “in the closet”; they want no one to know they are Autistic for fear of reprisals. This is not the way anyone should have to live. A friend, who is a lesbian, and I made an interesting conclusion several years ago. The word “passing” harkens back to what many light-skinned Blacks did in the majority White work-force prior to and up to the passing of the Civil Rights Amendment. The word “closeted” or describing oneself as being “in the closet” is a phrase used by the Gay Community to say that one is not open about their sexual orientation, we use it in terms of our Autism, another word, borrowed from the Gay Community, used by Autistics is “out”, as in “I am an out Autistic”, which of course I am, there are many correlations that can be drawn between the Civil Rights Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, and what Autistics are working for today. We deserve the same respect and rights as other disabled people.
I live and breathe Autism Acceptance every day; I try to tell more people about it. Autism Awareness has been achieved, almost everyone is "aware" of Autism; the next true step for the Autistic Community, my community, is Autism Acceptance! Autism is life-long; it is not just about children. Autism is not a disease; there is no "cure" for Autism. Autism Acceptance is anti-cure at its core, it is about Neurodiversity. Autism Acceptance is about more than just you accepting your diagnosis or the diagnosis of your child; it is instead about our society as a whole accepting Autistics for who we truly are stims and all. By sharing what I have done, I hope that I will in turn inspire you to do something, even if it is something little, that will lead to our end goal of Autism Acceptance, everyone can do his or her part, all you have to do is change one mind and in turn that mind will change another, the chain will go on and on. Every movement starts with a catalyst, now is the time to be a spark.
Published May 13, 2012 on Google+