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Awareness versus Acceptance ( re-post)

As I have been too ill to prepare anything for World Autism Day I am reposting this.

Awareness versus Acceptance

Many people argue about whether awareness or acceptance are what people with autism want from society.  Lots of people will say that an awareness of autism is fine, but people can be aware and still not accepting.  Virtually everybody thinks they know what autism is, but that doesn’t stop people being offensive.  And some people argue that acceptance suggests that it is up to the neuro- typical people to say `Oh, we accept people with autism` as if NTs can decide what types of people are acceptable, as if autistic people have put forward a fairly good case and they`ve been accepted in to the day to day order of things.  My view is somewhere in between:

Awareness

  • Awareness means everybody being aware of what autism is, and having at least a basic knowledge of it.
  • Awareness is a positive thing because it will hopefully lead to greater understanding, easier access to services, and make life easier for autistic people.
  • The vast majority of people are already aware of the existence of autism, even if they don’t fully understand it.
  • Awareness can help improve the lives of people with autism.
  • Awareness can’t solve all of the problems.

Acceptance

  • Acceptance means people who aren’t autistic accepting autistic people and their ways.
  • Acceptance can be very positive as it might make things easier in the work-place or learning environment.
  • The word acceptance does have a tendency to give a lot of power to the people without autism, as it suggests that it is up to them to decide if they want to accept autistic people or not.
  • A lot of people don’t like the phrase `acceptance` for that very reason.
  • Does this mean that acceptance is a bad thing?  No, it doesn’t. But it does mean that it is something that you have to be careful about when approaching.

Taking the positives and negatives from the concepts of awareness and acceptance, I think that there is a good ground to be reached somewhere in the middle.  Most people are aware of autism to some degree – even if it is just through Rainman. Some people are accepting of it without really knowing what it is.  For me the real key is understanding; you can be aware of autism, but not really know what it is.  Often this will lead to pity, people being patronising, or a belief that people with autism are either dangerous, or completely pointless trying to communicate with.  A lot of negative stereo-types pervade the public’s perception of autism; they are accepting yes, but quite often they are not accepting of real autistic people.  They might be aware, but in reality they are not aware of real autism, they are aware of the Medias` portrayal of autism.  That is why understanding is so important: you are aware of autism – good.  You are accepting of autism – good.  But do you understand autism?

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To read some of my autism articles check out my author page http://www.autismdailynewscast.com/author/paddy-joe/

I have co-authored two autism books. Check them out J

http://www.jkp.com/uk/helping-children-with-autism-spectrum-conditions-through-everyday-transitions.html

http://www.jkp.com/uk/create-a-reward-plan-for-your-child-with-asperger-syndrome.html

Paddy-Joe Moran

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January Meltdowns …..

Christmas and New Year have been fun, but also quite stressful.  I think however old you get, or however many strategies you put in to place, this time of year will always be difficult if you are autistic.  The amount of change and transition, plus the sensory issues means that Christmas and New Year can`t be anything other than a difficult time.  This doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable as well.

For me, I finished my first semester at university, and then had the change, and transition of Christmas and New Year.  All of these things together meant that my behaviour, and mood was affected quite severely.  I began to have more meltdowns than normal, and these also increased in severity.  I don’t think that this is uncommon at all among autistic people.  In fact, I think you would struggle to find someone who doesn’t get like this after Christmas, or during Christmas.

Early January can actually be the most difficult time because at least during December there are the positives of Christmas and New Year, so the good comes with the bad.  But January can be a pretty miserable month for people anyway – everything goes back to normal.  While this can be a positive thing, it is also not the easiest thing to deal with for anybody, let alone somebody with autism.  From my point of view it is even stranger as I don’t actually start university again until early February.  All my assignments are handed in so it is as if I have transitioned to another stage – it`s kind of a holiday, but not really.  I am not complaining about getting so much time off, it is just a little bit odd as I was just getting used to university, and I am sure that in some way this must have contributed to what`s been going on for me.

December is a strange time of year for people with autism and their families.  It is very positive and there is a lot of fun to be had – I am not trying to take away from this at all – but I also think it is the most difficult time of year.  I have written about why this might be previously, and I am sure everybody reading this will know anyway from personal experience, but for me early January has always been a bit more difficult.  It is harder to find the positive edge in all the changes and transitions that are going on, but it is possible.  It may be the case that some people are excited to get back to their old routine; may be they want to see friends they`ve not seen for a while?  There could be all kinds of positives to the transition back to everyday life, but it can still feel overwhelming.

The other thing to remember is that while meltdowns are not good – and it`s always best to ward them off, or at least resolve them quickly if possible – just because they get worse in January doesn’t mean that they will stay at this level for the rest of the year.  Things pass, and calm down.

In order to make sure things aren’t too much of a problems in December and January it is important to plan far in advance.  I think last year, may be because I am older, or simply because we were so busy, we didn’t put anywhere near as much planning in to Christmas and New Year, and the transition back to everyday life as we normally do.  And my Mum and I have both felt the effect of this.  We created strategies and techniques to make this transition easier, but for some reason we didn’t put them in to place this year.  My Mum was diagnosed with autism in the build-up to Christmas, so obviously this had quite a big impact on her life, and mine.  But one positive to come from this is that going forward in to Christmas and New Year this year, we can look at not only how it might affect me, but how it might affect Mum.  We both obviously struggle with these things.

What I am trying to say in this blog isn’t anything particularly negative; I just think that it`s important to make the point that things such as the stress created by change don’t simply go away as people with autism get older. Strategies and techniques are not things simply to be used in childhood and then left, especially for things like Christmas which only comes around once a year.  There is so much time in-between each event that the techniques and strategies need to begin afresh every time.  Even though we didn’t take our own advice for the Christmas and New Year just gone, hopefully some people reading this will have done, and had a more peaceful Christmas and New Year holiday than we did.  I wrote lots of articles and blogs in the lead-up to Christmas offering advice and tips that we know work – and we will certainly be using them next Christmas and New Year J Paddy-Joe

For more information and advice on Autism/Asperger`s see our free on-line service

ASK-PERGERS?

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ASKPERGERS

Twitter https://twitter.com/ASKPERGERS

To read some of my autism articles check out my author page http://www.autismdailynewscast.com/author/paddy-joe/

I have co-authored two autism books. Check them out J

http://www.jkp.com/uk/helping-children-with-autism-spectrum-conditions-through-everyday-transitions.html

http://www.jkp.com/uk/create-a-reward-plan-for-your-child-with-asperger-syndrome.html

Paddy-Joe Moran J

Results day.

Students always get incredibly stressed whenever it comes to results day because whatever level of education they are in, they are told that the results they get will have a massive impact on their future life, and career.  It would be silly to suggest that results don’t have some impact on your life, but the world is full of people who tried to do one thing, couldn’t and went away and did something else very well.

Obviously you want to get the best results possible, but the important thing is not to become overly stressed with this.  Especially for people with autism; a lot of benefits that can be gained from college, and university aren’t purely academic.  Often people can become much more social, and independent when they go in to higher education, and being able to go out by themselves and communicate with others can open up more doors than simply getting an academic qualification.  It also improves self-confidence.  People can often make good friends, and have a lot of good memories from their time in education.  Obviously this isn’t the only important element, but if somebody has struggled in making friends their whole life, and they come out of college with a close group of good friends, then they are doing a very good job – and that in itself is a massive achievement for them.

For example, I got good grades in college, but just as important as my grades was the fact that I was travelling independently nearly every day, and I was able to become more sociable, and make friends.  Of course I was pleased with my grades, but I simply saw them as a way of getting in to university.  I wasn’t particularly bothered about the academic element of the course.  If I hadn’t got the grades I needed for university though, I would have been able to re-take elements of the course to try to bump my grades up, or I could have left and taken some kind of vocational course.  I could have simply dropped out of education altogether, and gone in for a different kind of work.

 It is also worth pointing out that whatever stress teachers try to put on your shoulders, at eighteen you are still a teenager, and whether you get in to university or not, will not define you, or who you can be.  It all depends on your skill-set.  If you struggle to cope in college maybe going straight in to university is not the best thing you could do – why get yourself in to all that debt, and put yourself through all that stress when there are other options out there – other training programmes, courses, and jobs that may be much better suited to you?   I took a year off after college to focus on my writing, and if I hadn’t done that I probably wouldn’t have set up this blog, made the contacts I have, or be writing for on-line magazines and newspapers now.

The idea of staying in education until you are in your early twenties is only a recent thing for the majority of people.  This doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be taken up by anyone who wants to take it up, but no one should ever feel that it is the only option for them.  It is an option, and a good option, but the level of stress some people put themselves through when choosing this option is ridiculous – you’re still a teenager, so relax.  Even if you have to repeat a couple of years of college, and you are in your twenties when you go to university, it’s no big deal.  You are still young.  You can go to university at any time you want to in your life.  The idea of learning as much as you can by a certain age, and then going out and getting a job based on the knowledge you`ve accumulated over the past twenty one years, is redundant in today’s economy.  Anyway, education is a life-long thing.  The fact that you are not smart enough to do something aged eighteen doesn’t condemn you to a life-time of not being able to do things.  It just means that things might come a little more slowly, but you have to see the bigger picture – in forty or fifty years’ time, what will you care if you achieved something aged eighteen, or aged twenty?

There are all different kinds of education, and all different types of knowledge, and each of these can be put to use in one job or another.  Many of these forms of knowledge are not taught in colleges or universities, but that doesn’t make them, or their effect on your life, any less real.

 

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