Saturday, April 1, 2017

Inclusion during Autism Acceptance Month

During this Autism Acceptance Month let us not forget to welcome the formally diagnosed, the self-diagnosed, those who are questioning, or those that we might guess to also be on the Spectrum through our own observations.  Autistic-radar is a thing!  Let us extend the hand of friendship as it were: (please remember that there are those who do not wish to be touched unexpectedly so treat this as a figurative statement), to the out-casts, the lonely people, etc.  There is a vibrant support community of like-minded souls, whether you be out or still in closet as it were, on social media that is available for you to find and suggest that others seek out too.   

I have heard for years that online friends were not true friends, only those you know in the flesh are, but I beg to differ for many Autistics we are more at home online than our non-Autistic counterparts due to the fact that there is no need to attempt to decipher body language, tone of voice, etc. in order to communicate, there written word reigns supreme.  I have been chatting with people online since 1998 and have never looked back, I feel more at home there than anywhere else. 
I have never been one to talk about girlie things like fashion, hair, nails, celebrity crushes, etc. I cannot understand such interest/cannot relate, I on the other hand crave chats about nature, animals, politics, movies, tv shows, and books, the latter few tend to be of the sci-fi fantasy genres respectively.  Have always been more myself and more accepted talking with guys; they always are interested in such cool things.  Groups I tend to frequent are majority male, for me this is preferable.  I too have been an outcast sometimes even in groups that I have created, it is hard for me to get to know people/read people; unless things are blatant I miss things entirely.  I have trouble entering conversations even in a group of people I am familiar with if I come upon them already conversing, I do not know how to enter in their conversation, I tend to hang around the periphery and then just disappear.   
Many on the Autistic Spectrum struggle to read people and situations, subtleties are lost on us. This month above all others please try to welcome someone into your social group or gathering or online chat and be blatant about your desire for them to join you - someone who moves and acts like you do it will be appreciated.  Make a new friend, share a smile, include someone new, everyone appreciates being part of something bigger than themselves. 
In closing, please remember that Autism Acceptance is more than just you accepting your own Autism or that of your child, but more so as society as a whole accepting Autistic people stims and all on our terms, together we can make a better a more inclusive world for all.
Happy Autism Acceptance Month to one and all.