It’s Autistic Pride Day today, a day that, Wikipedia tells us, is “is a celebration of the neurodiversity of people on the autism spectrum.” I know this because Oliver, who’s the person in our family who’s on top of what-day-is-what, told me so.
My favourite explanation of what this day might mean comes from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and its poster “Why Acceptance?” that reads, in part:
What is autism acceptance? Autism acceptance means embracing and valuing autistic people as autistic people instead of being afraid of us, having low expectations, or trying to find a way to make us not autistic.
and then continues:
Acceptance is not passive. Acceptance is an action. Acceptance means doing everything you can so that your autistic child will grow up into the best autistic adult they can be, supporting your autistic friends in a world that is not designed for us, and working to make our world a better, more inclusive, safer place for autistic people of all ages and abilities.
It is, in other words, not a day for me to mark how proud I am of my autistic son (although I am enormously proud, every day, of the man he is becoming), it is a day for us all to celebrate the pride that Oliver takes in being who Oliver is.
If I could snap my fingers and change the world, I wouldn’t change a single thing about Oliver: he is a funny, creative, perceptive, compassionate, person who I love dearly.
My job, as his father, is to ensure, to the extent that I can, that the world – the world that is, in many ways, not designed for him – greets Oliver on his terms.
That was wonderful to read.