Seeing disability, illness and differences in an alternate way.
I find that on the whole advocacy for people on the Autism Spectrum category runs from two points of view. One is that we must fight hard for a cure, to make these individuals much more ‘normal’, so they can fit into society. The other is to embrace them for the individuals they are. I come from it at a different angle.
This is the way I see it. No matter who a person is, or what difficulties they possess, there is a certain need for them to be able to function within society. They need to be able to do some basics (like paying bills, shopping or getting out and about), but they also need a way to connect with their community. Without connection, life can be isolating and ultimately not terribly functional. Communication is crucial, and interactive capabilities necessary for performing the basics of life.
These are the things I seek for my Taz. I want him to be able to be as independent as possible. I also want something else for him too. I want him to be true to himself, to live where his strengths are valued and be able to do the things that he loves, living a life that enriches him. Whatever level of disability anyone has, I think it’s worth trying to live the most functional and soul fulfilling life possible. So you see, it’s not fighting for a cure OR acceptance, it’s fighting for a level of functionality which allows a person to live true to themselves.
This means teaching them tirelessly, how they can cope despite their difficulties, encouraging them that despite things being harder sometimes, that’s ok and it doesn’t stop them from doing it, and it means that advocacy is not about fighting for their acceptance in the world with all of their shortcomings, but fighting for them to be visible as real contributors, wherever they can, and sometimes being better contributors because of their differences. Once a disabled child becomes an adult, any acceptance or tolerance deteriorates markedly, because people unconsciously believe they have nothing to contribute. THIS is the bed where advocacy lies. Right in that spot that makes a person treat someone differently because they are in a wheelchair, have spent time in a mental hospital, or suffer from a lack of day to day reliability because of a chronic illness. This doesn’t make them useless. This doesn’t make them less intelligent or less capable of being able to contribute. They can just do so in different ways. Don’t see the wheelchair, the anxious face or the limitations: See the different point of view they have, the ability to plan or avoid problems and the unusual skills!
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Please be respectful of others at all times. We are all on different journeys.
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