Celebrating Differences: James
Uplifting Autistic voices for Autism Acceptance Month
The Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin seeks to amplify Autistic voices, stories, and perspectives. True acceptance occurs when the community listens to Autistic individuals’ lived experiences and values their stories.
Read below to learn more about what acceptance means to James, an Autistic advocate in our community.
ASGW: What do you wish the community knew about Autism or acceptance?
James: The reality is that many autistic people live with strengths and challenges at the same time, and if we really want to accept autism, we need to acknowledge both realities of autism…I am proud of being autistic and firmly believe that autistic people should have the same rights to a good and happy life as anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that I am in denial about the challenges that being autistic brings me as well.
ASGW: What does an accepting community look like to you?
James: An accepting community, in my opinion, is a community where people, autistic and neurotypical alike, acknowledge that because autistic people think differently and have different needs, what autistic people desire in order to live happy and meaningful lives is not necessarily the same as typical people. Autistic people find happiness in ways that differ from typical people. We often prefer different types of friendships compared to typical people, and often enjoy engaging in different hobbies and activities compared to typical people.
In addition, we sometimes struggle to engage in activities that typical people do easily that may constitute developmental expectations due to the typical ability of autistic people to complete them effortlessly at certain stages of life. Accepting communities, therefore, have a duty to reserve judgment with autistic people and understand that autistic people may have different preferences than them, and that something that may make a neurotypical person miserable or suspicious may actually be the root cause of an autistic person’s happiness.