We often hear about autism acceptance, and I am all for it. Autism acceptance means accepting the autistic person in your life, whether it be yourself, your child, spouse or whoever, including their autistic differences. Autism acceptance does not mean not wanting to change anything about yourself or the autistic perosn in your life. After all, we all want to change and move towards teaching our full potential, and I remember from I believe it’s Eriksonian psychology that only a small percentage of people truly reach their full potential at the end of their lives.
Unfortunately, many parents of “low-functioning” autistic children say that they cannot accept their child’s autism because it’s rendering them incapable. I understand their point of view, but I do not see why there is nothing about their child’s autism that they can accept. As Suzanne over at Rarer in Girls says, she sometimes actually delights in her daughter’s autistic behaviors even though Janey is labeled “low-functioning”. At the same time, Suzanne wants Janey to learn functional communication and to become toilet trained. I totally see why.
I myself do my best to change certain aspects of my autism. For example, I watn to become less irritable and less easily overloaded. This is not because I don’t accept myself, or because I feel autism is bad. It is because I feel I could have a better quality of life if I learned strategies to regulate my sensory sensitivity and emotions.
I honestly believe that no person, autistic or not, has nothing they want to change about themselves, and for parents of all children, I don’t believe there’s nothing they want to change about their child. For this reason, I dislike the dichotomous perspective on which autistics need to be “fixed”. As Suzanne says, her child is “low-functioning”, but there are still aspects of her autism that she cherishes. In this respect, let’s move from which autistics need to be fixed on to which symptoms of autism need to be treated so that people can have a good quality of life.
There are other reasons I dislike the autism dichotomy. I am not allowed to complain about any of my difficulties, because I am more capalbe than some autistic children ever will be. These same parents are advocating for fulltime support for their children once they become adults, but I, being more capalbe in only a few areas, should deal without support. It’s that simple in the Netherlands. If you don’t require institutional support (which I do require, but people not working with me don’t get this), you fall under the local government in terms of funding for support, and care is no longer a right (which it is if you need institutional care).
Nothing in autism is dichotomous. It isn’t like, if a person crosses a certain, arbitrary line between “low-functioning” and “high-functioning”, they suddenly become completely acceptable and not in need of any treatment or become completely unacceptable and in need of a cure. There are people who can speak and write coherently who feel they’d want all their autistic symptoms to be cured. There are also (parents of) people who don’t have functional communication who don’t wish (their child) to be cured. That doesn’t mean these parents don’t want their child to learn. All parents want their child to learn and grow. As I said in my first paragraph, even neurotypicals often want to change. Change is inherent in a person’s process of aging, but that doesn’t mean that a person at any stage of their life isn’t acceptable.