Although our community at large typically recognizes April as “Autism Awareness Month,” the more progressive thinkers (and most autistic people themselves) prefer to call these 30 days “Autism Acceptance Month.”
As the mom of an incredible autistic child, I’m in the latter camp.
Want to know why? Well, I addressed it some in this post about why I don’t believe my son’s autism is a tragedy.
What is “Autism Acceptance?”
This article from the Autism Self Advocacy Network explains it far better than I can:
The gulf between awareness and understanding is as wide as any ocean.
- Awareness is all about creating a sense of urgency and fear.
- Awareness efforts present us as a problem to be solved, and yesterday.
- Awareness operates in stereotypes and soundbites, not real people.
- Awareness has no substance; it is but a tool to earn more money to fix us and to promote yet more awareness.
Awareness is easy. Acceptance requires actual work.
Acceptance comes from a place of understanding. Understanding isn’t generated by soundbites and poster children. . . To accept us, people first need to acknowledge us as individuals—as three dimensional, growing, developed characters. We are not all the same, and we are not but a collection of deficits. . .
Acceptance requires facing that which makes you uncomfortable about us, thinking about why it makes you uncomfortable, and confronting any prejudice at the root of that discomfort. To accept us is to make a conscious effort to overcome that prejudice, to recognize that your discomfort with our differences is far more your problem to overcome than ours.
Acceptance and awareness come from vastly different mindsets. Awareness seeks to highlight how ‘other’ we are and emphasizes the differences. . . Acceptance looks at commonalities we share and at the strength inherent in diversity. Those who seek awareness ultimately have the goal of bridging the gap by making us more like them. . .
Acceptance says ‘you are you, and that’s pretty awesome. I am me, and that’s pretty awesome.’ Acceptance seeks to meet us where we are, or at least far closer to equitably than awareness does. Those who accept are not seeing us as projects or as charity cases. Those who accept us don’t ‘tolerate’ us—they embrace us, differences and all. . .
Awareness says the tragedy is that I exist as I am. Acceptance says that the tragedy would be trying to make me any other way.”
Want to move from awareness to acceptance? Want to know more about the inner workings of autism and the incredible people worldwide who live with it daily?
I’ve got just the thing.
I’ve created a fantastic reading list for you this month to not only entertain, but to enlighten you as well. These are some of my favorite books — either about autism, or featuring autistic characters. I’ve also listed some of my own most popular autism-related posts. There’s something here for everyone, so let’s dig in!
A Reading List for Autism Acceptance Month
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
One of my all-time favorite novels featuring an autistic boy who attempts to solve a neighborhood mystery. There are some difficult storylines in this novel, and some graphic language as well, but it’s a fantastic glimpse into the difficulties many autistic people and their families face daily.
The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
In this futuristic novel, autism has been eradicated in children. The protagonist, Lou Arrendale, is an autistic adult is offered an opportunity for an experimental “cure.” Throughout the book, Lou struggles with what a “cure” would mean and whether he would still be himself if he took advantage of the offer. This is an excellent read.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
A highly entertaining novel about Don Tillman, an undiagnosed Aspie, who decides it’s time to find a wife. He sets off on a quest to find the perfect candidate. The story is warm, funny, and romantic. Read my review here.
600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster
This one’s about a 39-year old with Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. An intriguing look into the life of an autistic adult and the challenges he faces. Read my review here.
Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
This novel made my favorites list of 2015, and it’s a must-read for any parent of an autistic child. Be warned, though. It’s a tearjerker. Read my review here.
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
An insightful memoir of a 14-year-old boy with autism. It’s a short read with lots of “aha” moments into understanding the mind of a non-verbal autistic person. You’ll be able to read this one in one sitting and it will open your mind to the reasoning behind why autistic children do the things they do.
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison
John Elder Robison is a highly respected advocate (and autistic person) within the greater autism community. This memoir chronicles his years as a misunderstood child and his adult career as a pyrotechnics/electronics geek whose genius landed him a job working with the rock band KISS. A great look into the “quirkiness” of autism and how a person’s quirks are innately linked to their talents.
The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-so-obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens With Asperger Syndrome by Jennifer Cook O’Toole
Although this guide is geared toward teens with Asperger Syndrome, it does a terrific job of explaining common autism traits with non-technical, easy-to-understand language. It’s a great resource for parents and grandparents who want to understand what makes their autistic kids tick. And of course, it’s a perfect read for the autistic teen or tween in your life as well.
If you are a parent of a newly diagnosed child, this quick read is a perfect jumping-off place. There is vast amount of information out there about autism, and it can be overwhelming for a newbie who is just starting to navigate the autism waters. My friend Cindy’s book will guide you through those first steps, succinctly but gently. Her book overflows with practical help as well as grace and encouragement.
You Are a Social Detective by Michelle Garcia Winner
Michelle Garcia Winner is one of the top autism educators in the country, and with good reason. Her stuff is good, and is used by therapists and teachers nationwide to help kids with social difficulties. This book is geared toward school-age autistic kids who are struggling socially, but it’s a fantastic primer for parents, teachers, and siblings who want to understand the ins and outs of autism better.
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
This is a well-written, comprehensive–but not boring–history of autism. I was fascinated by all the stories and the conclusions Silberman draws from his research. This is a satisfying and validating read. See my full review here.
My Own Blog Posts About Autism
Will you do me a favor?
Are you willing to spread the word about “Autism Acceptance” over “Autism Awareness?”
You can do so by sharing this post, either with friends or co-workers who might appreciate it, or on your favorite social media channels. You can click on the links below to automatically share to Facebook or Twitter. And I’ve included images perfect for adding to Pinterest or Instagram as well.
Let’s spread the word this month about autism acceptance, shall we? And hopefully start to make this world a better place for ALL people.