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.