Moving beyond connotations of grief to arrive at the acceptance paradigm.
Something that happens when I try to talk about acceptance in meatspace, be it autistic or other disabilities, people always seem to make the same face. Their eyes go glassy and their mouths form a line and it goes a little wobbly and maybe their head even tilts. Then they’ll say something like “but why would you give up hope that things can get better?”
I’m not sure how I appear to react in these moments. I know in my head I just hear this loud static noise and all the lights get really bright.
This morning I realized why.
Other people are generally only familiar with the concept of acceptance as the final stage of grief. You know the ones. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
So in that context, calling for acceptance sounds like resigning one’s self to an immutable reality. And in this person’s mind, autism’s erroneous conflation with narratives of death are again reinforced.
Language is a powerful thing. Language is also a flexible thing. The same word can have many meanings in different contexts. Different perspectives yield different connotations.
So, I’ve written this to encourage any parents, practitioners, researchers, educators, and individuals who may be reading: recontextualize your relationship with autism. If autism still feels like a kind of death to you, if it feels like something to grieve, you’re not going to be able to understand the depth and the beauty of what we mean when we say “acceptance”.
Acceptance is not resignation. Acceptance is holistic love. Acceptance is understanding. Acceptance is faith and confidence and determination. Acceptance is the key that unlocks the door to meaningful, healthy, transformative support and growth and happiness.
Acceptance is the key to life.