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A Note on Autism Acceptance

In most spaces and places autism is seen as a negative thing. If you Google autism, you see websites and articles focused on 'treating' and 'reducing symptoms' of autism. In a lot of online spaces, the word autism is used as an insult. In most educational and health settings, autism is seen as something to try and fix or change.

But Spectrum Gaming proves that most people are wrong. Autism is not a 'disorder' or a 'burden', it is simply a difference. Just like every other brain type, the autistic brain has its negatives and things that make life more difficult. But autistic brains also have many positives that others may never have the opportunity to experience. These may include having a logical brain with good attention to detail, the ability to focus deeply, strong memory skills and unique thought processes. Autistic people place less value on small talk and more on openness and honesty. Autistic people may also have lots of knowledge and skills in one specific area.

There is another big difficulty autistic people face, which is that most people are afraid of difference. If you have an interest that is different from most, you may be judged for it. If you react to your sensory differences or are feeling anxious, people often lack empathy and put you through difficult experiences that you are not ready for. If you talk, act or behave in a different way, people may misunderstand or mistreat you.

This means autistic people often have additional challenges they face as a direct result of being in an environment that isn’t suited to their needs, plus lack of understanding from others. It is currently the norm that autistic people experience these difficulties. It is important to remember:

  • Meltdowns are not an autistic trait, they are a way an autistic child might show us that they are struggling. 

  • High levels of anxiety are not an autistic trait, they are a sign that children don’t feel safe. 

  • Traumatic stress is not an autistic trait.  It is what happens when things have gone badly wrong. 

 

Some people can recover from these struggles over time, but some don’t and continue to struggle every day. We believe in creating a world where there is a level playing field and autistic people have the best possible chance of thriving. Then people will be able to see autism for what it truly is, and autistic children will be free to be children who can dream and have joyful experiences, without other people and society holding them back. This is why we believe it is really important to understand what trauma is, why it is so common in autistic people and most importantly, what can help.

Autism acceptance on a practical level 

 

Autistic people have brains that process the world differently to non-autistic people, which impacts both positively and negatively on aspects of their thinking and learning; sensory processing; social relational experiences; and communicative style, abilities and preferences.

"An autistic person’s experience of and ability to be successful in the world, is dependent on the compatibility between their individual profile and their physical/ social environment.” - Dr Julia Leatherland

Autism + Environment = Outcome

 

Autism is the name for the way your brain is wired, this is unchangeable.

Therefore, outcomes for autistic people are determined by the physical and social environment they are in. The more positive the environments, the more positive outcomes autistic people will have. If an autistic person is struggling, they are often disabled by the environment not being suited to their needs, rather than autism itself. In the right environment, autistic people can focus on their strengths, follow their passions and truly flourish.

When you meet an autistic young person, they are rarely just autistic

 

Because of the high levels of stress in autistic people, autistic people often have traits of anxiety, depression, trauma and much more. It is rare for an autistic child to not have additional mental health difficulties, so it is really helpful to look at an autistic child through the "wider autism lens". They may be struggling a lot right now, but they will struggle less when they have opportunities to recover from their negative experiences, and can be 'just autistic'. Being able to be 'just autistic' in an environment that is suited to your needs and focused on your strengths, gives autistic people the best possible opportunity to thrive.

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