In our quest for Autism Acceptance, what is the first word that you think of, when you hear the word, Autism? As an Autistic women, I first think of the word ‘Beauty’. I always have, and probably always will, and here is the reason why. You see, Autism, is a beautiful disability that impacts every second of my life, in a multitude of complicated, hard, frustrating and invisible ways. However, I have learnt that this is ok, because, I wouldn’t change my disability for the world. I love My Autistic Wings, after all; thanks to the beautiful, and unique positive attributes and unique perspective, that my ability gifts me with, on a daily basis. My name is Joely Williams (nee Colmer), and I am a passionate National and World Award Winning Autism Activist, Motivational Speaker, and best selling Author of “AspergerWorld : My Fairy Jam Jar” book. I was diagnosed as Autistic when I was 2 years old. Learning to understand my disability, changed my life for the better. From this understanding of my hardships, and my disabilities many positive attributes, came my biggest wish; to help empower understanding of the hidden hardships and quirks of my disability, in order to enable autism acceptance, and change lives. So what is Autism Acceptance? Acceptance is moving past your fears, perceptions and ideologies of what autism is, and it’s always challenging and learning more from as many different perspectives as possible, because you accept that all Autism is different. Autism Acceptance says that the tragedy would be trying to make me be, any other way, other than unashamedly myself. It is accepting that the environment, and its people needs to change to enable us, to be the best we can be, not the autistic people. Acceptance is striving to understand; in my eyes, acceptance is not forcing autistic people to hide their autism, or mask it, to fit in to be normal, rather it’s accepting that certain behaviours or characteristics are defence modes for a reason- purely to help is process and cope; for example our stimming, need for time out, day dreaming or shutdowns – Its accepting that these things help, even if they seem unconventional, even if you cant see it helping. Its accepting that the best they can be, may not be like your friend’s poster children, or your other autistic friend. Its accepting that your child’s achievements, or your own, may seem non existent to people that don’t live your life, but that they are still achievements, none the less. Its accepting that surviving a day of non activities, is actually achieving a lot, in the face of mis understood adversity. Its accepting that flowers can’t grow without a little rain. Its accepting that capabilities, skills and hardships fluctuate and change, on a daily, if not, hourly basis, depending on our environment. Its accepting, that one minute, I may not look autistic, and the next I’ll be stereotypically autistic. Its accepting that not one autistic person is the same as another, and just because our capabilities change does not mean our autism is fake, or not ‘real’ autism, or any less, than another autistic person. Different, is not less. To accept us is to make a conscious effort to overcome that prejudice or misunderstandings, to recognize that your discomfort with our differences, is far more your problem to overcome, than ours. It is accepting that the environment is what needs to be fixed, not the autistic person. Its accepting that there is no shame in having these misconceptions or misunderstandings; it’s an invisible disability, even experts are still learning- and that’s what is important- Autism acceptance is all about learning and trying to improve and enable us to be the best we can be, by trying to understand and challenge what we think we already know. Ultimately, its accepting that, in all the diversities of the beautiful autistic spectrum, we are all AUSOME, in our own unique ways. I believe there is a lot to celebrate in Autism; our honesty, loyalty, punctuality, motivation, passion and our innate need for justice, to abide by the rules, laws, and protocols. The beautiful fact that as autistic individuals we have an innate need, due to the way we process information, to always try to do the correct, right, justified thing or action – this means that often, we find ourselves masking or hiding our autism, because we have been taught that being ourselves is wrong, no matter how counterproductive the mask is, no matter how much the mask harms us- we try to do what we perceive to be the right thing. Not to mention the joyous passions and desire to learn anything and everything about a topic of interest, and then the ability to systemise data and process information fact first- then emotions or old memories, which means, I, as an autistic individual am very good at remembering facts, dates and information of interest. Yes, I rather love my Autism, and although it I complicated, I can't help but feel, that it is, so beautiful, with all its hidden depths and quirks, too. As you now know, my biggest wish has always been to make a positive impact into my autistic community; I do wonder though, what about you? Challenge your perceptions, learn more about the diversities of Autism, and let us know, what will your wish, to empower autism acceptance be?
With a sprinkle of Fairy Dust, may you, too, become enchanted by our ‘Autistic Wings’.