by Kerry Cordy
April is Autism Awareness Month, and the tenth annual World Autism Awareness Day was April 2, 2017. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day, and even the whole month, with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. Many of our Frontier Girls and Quest members however suggested that autism acceptance is a more appropriate goal. What is the difference you ask? Awareness simply requires education, but no applicable action. I can be aware of the symptoms of autism, but not care, not accept, not be kind, etc. Awareness puts everything at a distance, presented in stereotypes, but does not require that you actually confront your own prejudices and discomfort in an effort to get to know and understand someone different than yourself.
Acceptance on the other hand requires understanding – understanding not only the difficulties an autistic person confronts on a daily basis, but also an understanding of our own reactions to someone different than ourselves. In many ways, autism is just another way of seeing the world and if you can make the effort to try to view the world through their eyes, then understanding and acceptance comes that much faster. Awareness is all about the problems and the difficulties caused by autism, while acceptance is loving someone for who they are and embracing the differences that make them a unique person, loving them for who they are, not for who the world thinks they should be. For those of us who love someone autistic, you cannot remove autism from who they are. If you did, they would not be the same quirky wonderful person who captured your heart.
Five years ago I wrote an article about one of our members down in Arizona, Elizabeth Vicoryosmanson (read the original article in the April 2012 newsletter here). This year, Beth is graduating 8th grade, so I thought it would be appropriate to give an update on this amazing young lady. Below is a message from her mother:
and communicate. She would never read, write, understand math or science. Never play sports properly, and would barely be able to get around physically due to her lack of motor skills. We were told that she would never hit any milestone beyond a three year old’s behavior. We chose not to believe them.
We were told this day wouldn’t happen for her, but she has proven that she is bright, capable, and in every way, extraordinary. They gave her a diagnosis of autism, and a bleak prospective of the future. She turned their negative view into awetism, and has given the world sparkle, service, style, and spunk. Please join our family in celebrating this blessing we call Beth.”
Most of Beth’s friends and family live too far away to help her celebrate, so her mother is holding a virtual party. What better way to show autism acceptance than to show love an congratulations to one of our most active members. If you would like to send Beth graduation cards and congratulate her on her achievement, please mail them to Frontier Girls headquarters and we will be happy to pass them on.
Frontier Girls LLC
17040 Austin Lane
Cottonwood, Ca 96022