Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 3 Spring 2015 - Page 10

“What I want is for you to show us respect and acceptance when we act or think differently than you expect.” “The best way to help people with autism is to make a world where it is okay to be different.” i spent last fall and winter doing a lot of autism education at my youngest son’s school. Over the course of a few weeks, I gave presentations about autism to every third and fourth grade class. Most of these children were already aware of autism, at least a little. For me and for them, it was far more valuable to talk about autism acceptance. In talking to the kids, I heard a lot that was really encouraging. For example, there was one kid who responded to my statement that there is no cure for autism by giving me a thoughtful, original, perfect third-grade definition of neurodiversity. He then told his classmates that autistic people don’t need a cure. Then there were the children who told me stories about kids they knew who bullied and teased autistic kids. Among them was one fourth grader who told me about a boy he’d gone to summer camp with. This boy had friends and got along well with others. When his peers heard that he had autism, they started teasing him and no longer wanted to be his friends. This page and previous page: Jean and her son Jack are looking forward to celebrating Autism ‘Acceptance’ Month. 10 Zoom Autism Through Many Lenses Those bullies were aware of autism, but they were not accepting of it. This one summer camp tale is a microcosm of what can happen in larger society. This is one reason why many autism and neurodiversity advocates have opted to stop celebrating April as autism awareness month and have instead rechristened it Autism Acceptance Month.