The month of April is upon us and there’s been Autism walks, Neurodiverse themed weeks, and if your social media algorithm is set up as mine is, tons of Autism Acceptance posts with “Embrace Neurodiversity” and hashtags about autism awareness and autism acceptance.
Understandably, if you do not interact with an Autistic person on a day to day basis, this may be something completely irrelevant to you and you have no idea what I’m talking about, which is totally okay! However, for anybody who does interact with the Autistic population often, this month symbolizes a movement that aims to shift people’s perspectives from awareness to acceptance and ideally this extends outside of the month of April, and into everyday life.
Acceptance and awareness can be confused by definition and perception. While awareness means to have knowledge and understanding, acceptance means to include and be received as adequate or suitable. Awareness is knowing the characteristics of Autism and thinking of a way to help the Autistic population fit into society. Acceptance is taking action and figuring out how to make society easier for the Autistic population based on these characteristics, which can be difficult in today’s busy life.
As difficult as it seems, acceptance is really all around us. We’ve accepted that underneath all of the acceptance, there’s been doubt, questions, trials, and errors, and that’s why scientists, anthropologists, other researchers, exist. It has also taken years for people to understand what Autism awareness is and with enough interaction and effort, hopefully society will embrace what Autism acceptance means.
Autism acceptance is accepting that there are different ways of thinking, and that just because someone is different, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. It’s accepting that sometimes, a little patience can go a long way to help someone learn to say a single word, whether that’s vocally, through a picture, sign language, or through a device. It’s not giving up out of frustration when someone doesn’t get something. It’s taking time to figure out how someone learns, and investing effort into them as you would hope someone does for you or your family. It’s understanding that this journey is not a straight line or a specific path but instead a rollercoaster with twists, full circle loops, and rushing speeds because the journey to Autism acceptance still has a long road ahead.
At Mindcolor Autism, we continue to travel down this road to expand our knowledge in understanding the difference between awareness and acceptance. The IMPACT provided through Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy focuses on high INTEGRITY, a MISSION of progress, PASSIONATE team members, ACCOUNTABLE interventions, CARING treatment, and TEAMwork. Combined, Mindcolor’s IMPACT aims to ensure everyone feels accepted across all of our facilities. This takes putting in the effort to create each individual center so that it is set up not for us, but for the clients we serve within the neurodiverse population.
Worldwide, culturally, economically, etc. the way the world is set up is typically not for the neurodiverse population but for the neurotypicals who can perform tasks within their daily lives without a lot of assistance. Neurotypicals are often referred to this way as this population learns in similar or typical ways in relation to the majority of society. On the other hand, people may engage in other patterns of learning that are minority to the population, better known as neurodiverse. Neurodiverse people may need other types of support to perform their daily tasks such as assistance with communication, socialization, getting dressed, waiting for something, or tolerating change. Sometimes, people also struggle with sensory input such as bright lights and loud sounds, which can cause someone to cover their ears, close their eyes, or even run away! The current way the world is set up and created is by neurotypical people who often do not need the same support as the neurodiverse population. In doing so, the neurodiverse population may be disregarded and therefore, at a disadvantage.
Mindcolor’s use of evidence-based interventions and caring treatment combined with teamwork, individualizes therapy to find accommodations for individuals who are living in this world that wasn’t designed for them. Through passionate team members, high integrity treatment can be implemented with the focus of helping individuals find their voice and sense of self no matter how that might look or sound. During our daily sessions, our team works to understand what is being communicated from our clients not only across the environment but down to their needs as a person. Sometimes, it just takes a little compassion to understand and accept the people we interact with everyday in their world, and not in ours.
To be accepting is to understand that everyone has their own needs to grow, just as every plant grows in different conditions. Acceptance is including individuals across all activities and daily life while still learning how that may not look the same all of the time. It’s interacting with our world through a new lens and opening the mind to a new perspective. Even in the field of ABA, the treatment referred to Autistic individuals the most, what we learn from our individuals daily teaches us more about life than we can ever read in a book. Every interaction teaches us that there’s so much more to learn and when we know more, we can do more to create an inclusive society for all people!
To learn more about the Autistic human experience there are multiple online outlets from the Autistic community themselves. You may find resources by a quick google search of keywords such as Autistic voices, Autistic advocacy, Neurodiveristy, Neurodiverse movement, and Autism. You can also visit our website at www.mindcolorautism.com to learn more about our organization or reach out to our team as we are always ready and happy to help, no matter what part of the journey you may be on!
Author: Brittany Morgan, M.S., BCBA, LBA
Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Mindcolor Center Director (San Antonio, TX)
Mindcolor Autism. 2023. https://www.mindcolorautism.com/aba-therapy-about-us
Oxford Languages. 2023. https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/