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Karen Wang
BY Karen Wang

10 Ways My Family Practices Acceptance

April was Autism Acceptance Month.  Throughout the month, there were several social media campaigns to help people understand why acceptance benefits everyone and should be valued by everyone.  The resulting discussions brought some relevant lessons for acceptance of all types of disabilities, not just autism.

Some equate acceptance with passivity or playing the victim, but this is an inaccurate perception. Dictionary.com defines acceptance as, “the act of taking or receiving something offered; the act of assenting or believing.”

Disability acceptance often means going against social norms and standing up for human rights, which can take a great deal of courage.  The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) explains, “Acceptance is an action.”  All through April, people around the world shared examples of acceptance in action with the hashtag #AcceptanceIs.

Looking at my own life, I found several ways to explain how my family practices acceptance:

  1. #AcceptanceIs the freedom to develop interests into skills.
  2. #AcceptanceIs learning at his pace and recognizing the limits of what can be accomplished in one day.
  3. #AcceptanceIs meeting him where he is and moving forward together.
  4. #AcceptanceIs making it doable.
  5. #AcceptanceIs learning how to #MakeATinyChange
  6. #AcceptanceIs teaching him how to speak for himself and stepping back.
  7. #AcceptanceIs being leaned on heavily when his legs give way, being grabbed for a tight hug when he’s anxious, holding hands with a teenager in public.
  8. #AcceptanceIs making sure that he knows he is loved and cherished in every moment no matter what happens.
  9. #AcceptanceIs answering the same question over and over, and meeting the need behind the question.
  10. #AcceptanceIs asking and waiting for the answer.

At the same time, ASAN solicited stories from Autistics about positive aspects of autism.  One of the questions asked was,”What do I like about being autistic?”  So I asked my son to respond, and he wrote about his experience:

What I like about being autistic:What is acceptance?

  1. Going to museums
  2. Visiting new places
  3. Taking elevators
  4. Having extra help in class
  5. Finishing all my homework
  6. Learning math
  7. Knowing the right notes to sing
  8. Being proud of my hard work
  9. Getting everything I want
  10. Doing good on quizzes”

Throughout my son’s development, my family’s focus has been on life skills, which we teach through community-based outings, recreation and the natural rhythms of home life.  He doesn’t really get everything he wants, but he does enjoy working toward personal goals. By participating in his unique vision, we are learning what acceptance is.

How would you describe acceptance?

Karen Wang

Written on May 18, 2015 by:

Karen Wang is a Friendship Circle parent. You may have seen her sneaking into the volunteer lounge for ice cream or being pushed into the cheese pit by laughing children. She is a contributing author to the anthology "My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids With Disabilities"
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