Acceptance and Autism #AtoZChallenge

Today, for my first post for the A to Z challenge, I want to focus on a fundamental aspect of parenting an autistic (or non-autistic) child and of being a person: acceptance.

Many pro-cure autism parents don’t like the word “acceptance” when used in the same sentence as “autism”. They think that to accept their child’s autism means to like it, or to see it as something that can’t possibly be negative.

In truth, accepting means simply acknowledging what is. I remember I was discussing acceptance with a former therapist and saying I wasn’t ready toa ccept something. At that point she said that I might not be ready to accept the current weather but it’s still stormy whether I accept it or not. It is in the same mindset that I would like to encourage parents and autistic people to accept themselves or their autistic child.

Most parents, even those who would like to take away their child’s autism, accept their child for who they are. In other words, they acknowledge that their child is autistic now. Some obviously don’t, as some parents are in denial and others view autism as something completely separate from their child, but most do. Acceptance does not mean not wanting to change anything. In fact, in dialectical behavior therapy, a common treatment approach for people with borderline prsonality disorder, you are taught that to change something, you have to accept it first.

Let’s face it: your child is autistic. That’s the reality you have to acknowledge as a parent if you even want to begin to change anything about your child. You wouldn’t start treatment for autism, whether it’s behavioral or biomedical or medication treatment, if you didn’t accept your child is autistic.

I can illustrate this with my own life. My family till this day does not accept that I’m autistic. I wasn’t diagnosed till early adulthood for this reason. Then, when I accepted that I’m autistic, I started seeking treatment. I take medication and get counseling. This helped me greatly improve behaviorally. I would likely still have meltdowns everyday if I hadn’t accepted the fact that I’m autistic.

In short, to accept yourself as an autistic person or to accept your autistic child means to acknowledge the reality of autism. As parents, you probably love your child regardless of their autism, too, but that is different from accepting them. Accepting yourself or your autistic child does not mean liking your or their behavior. It does not mean there is nothign you wish to change about yourself or your child. After all, everyone has things they want to change about themselves and one aspect of parenthood is to help your child change.

10 thoughts on “Acceptance and Autism #AtoZChallenge

  1. Hi
    I found your blog through the A to Z challenge.
    My son is autistic, although it’s not severe. His meltdowns, as he’s getting older and approaching puberty are getting more frequent, his distress is almost palpable because he simply doesn;t understand why he reacts the way he does.

    It’s my job to lessen the effect of the meltdowns, to try to help him find a way to cope with them that allows him to be more comfortable with who he is.

    I don’t necessarily see it as my job to change him, but to help him accept every aspect of himself whilst he finds his way to understanding what autism means for him

    Flip

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    1. I understand what you mean. However, what I meant when I said a job of parenthood is helping our children change, is more that we help our children change into adults. This goes for both parents of autistic children and parents of neurotypical children.

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  2. I know where you’re coming from when it comes to acceptance. I have a physical disability, visible, much easier to process in some ways, so acceptance was inevitable really, but it doesn’t mean not doing anything about it. Whereas you have counselling and medication, I had operations which mean I can walk mostly normally, but we both have to acknowledge and accept what our conditions mean to our lives.

    Great post.

    Sophie
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles
    FB3X
    Wittegen Press

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    1. No, didn’t know this. I have mixed feelings about this, because acceptance in this sense is a political term. Contrary to how I described it in this post, many see it as a positive thing, and as such, it implies liking autism. Awareness on the other hand refers to knowing what is, understanding autism, etc. It has become a political term too though.

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  3. I like how you’ve distinguished between acceptance and liking. You can’t have a meaningful dialogue on anything until you can accept where you are. Then you can decide how to go from there. Thank you for this thought-provoking post!

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  4. Good post. I think acceptance of any situation is key. Being in denial just delays any kind of progress.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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