Monday, October 22, 2012

On Acceptance

The fight is so old and cliché, but let me lay down my take, as long as I care, momentarily.

My current perception, in general terms, is that most people agree that Autistic People deserve love, respect, and civil rights, and we should do our best as a society to provide needed support and treatment.

Just about everyone seems to agree with that. There are rare exceptions at the polar ends of the Acceptance Conversation, ranging from “The Problems Associated with Autism are Purely Social” to “Autism Needs to be Cured/Eradicated Because My Life as a Parent Is Difficult.” Um, these are extremely rare stances to encounter, if only because people with these views don’t attempt meaningful discussion, and most people will agree that they are wrongheaded.

Those with more moderate opinions on all sides tend to imply that those with opposing views fall into one of these Rare Polar Categories, while simultaneously inferring that their opponent is suggesting they are at the polar opposite.

An argument ensues where each opponent denies holding a polar position, and throws out a few vague examples of the moderate-ness of their position—usually things that, broadly speaking, they all actually agree on.

But the devil is in the details, and everybody’s feelings are hurt past the point of being able to have a productive conversation about them.

No, it’s not abundantly clear that acceptance of autistic people and negative feelings towards autism are mutually exclusive ideas.

No, it’s not obvious that you accept your child when you publicly focus on the burdens autism imposes—on NT loved ones, and NT loved ones, only.

No, disagreeing with an autist on a divisive issue isn’t equivalent to paving the way for social oppression for future autistic generations.

No, not every personal expression by self advocates about Neurodiversity is a personal attack on parents.

No, not every response to an autistic POV with an explanation of an NT POV is an attempt to oppress or silence autists.

I’m not saying that any of these ideas are inherently FALSE, I’m just pointing out that they are up for debate, for sure. And what happens is that people will lump these debatable concepts into their own, personal feelings about acceptance, and then REFUSE to discuss them because the issue at hand is Us vs. Them, or someone else making it about Us vs. Them, or Pro-Acceptance vs. Anti-Acceptance, or Pro-Treatment vs. Anti-Treatment. Pro-Respect or Anti-Respect. Obviously. The truth is, everybody is so busy identifying with a philosophy that they are failing to engage.

And it’s boring. Politics. So similar to the US Two Party System that it’s amusing. It says WAY more about human nature than it does about ASD/NT or disabled/nondisabled relationship dynamics. From where I’m standing, anyway.

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