During National Autism Awareness Month, Autism NOW and The Arc offers the personal stories and perspectives of people with autism to generate discussion about autism awareness and acceptance. We invite your comments here and on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #AutismAware.
By Jane Strauss, Minneapolis, MN
Once, a man was bored at work. He found a little wheel and was fiddling with it.
A co-worked came up and joked, “You should stop doing that or people will think you are a kid with autism. I saw on TV that they do that.”
Without missing a beat, the man asked, “What if I was autistic?”
The co-worker, confused by this response, backpedaled, stammered, apologized and fell silent.
Awareness is not acceptance.
Do you use “person first” language while you really believe disabled people are “less than” and think that language alone is acceptance?
Do you think a separate program is inclusion – or make regular events accessible to all?
Do you decide what accommodations are needed – or ask people what works for them?
Do you talk to the disabled person – or to their caregiver or parent?
Do you include disabled people out of duty or pity – or hospitality?
Would you want one of “them” to date your sister or your son?