Recent research is indicating a number of ground shifting things; autistic communication difficulties are exacerbated by non-autistic reactions to and assumptions about autistics, the well-being and mental health of autistics is impacted by self-acceptance and acceptance by others. Neither of these has made huge headlines, and yet both of these SHOULD be changing how autism is viewed by professionals, the general public and by us, the autistic community.  Many autistics have been saying these things for years, but if we are not saying it in peer reviewed journals, it can be dismissed as ‘merely anecdotal’.

If people assume autistics are not worth communicating with and so do not bother, then clearly we are not communicating back, because who communicates with someone that regularly ignores them? Oh – yes – some children do, because children have not given up yet and still want to be accepted. So, when a child (of any kind) cannot get positive attention, then they aim to just get attention and this can look like bad behaviour. But… if a child needs a drink and signs drink and this is ignored and ignored, and then they hit you with their cup…. who and what is the problem?

I accept that I have been, and probably still am, less than perfect, but I also accept I have good points, that I am in general kind and passionate about social justice. I try to listen to others and accept and value everyone I meet. If someone communicates differently to me, that makes it different not less. I can speak a number of languages and sign a few words, but I am not great with some of the AAC programs. A person who is fluent in sign or fast with their AAC device is just as worthy of my attention, acceptance and kindness as someone who speaks.

Please accept yourself as a valuable human being, and be as kind and accepting of others as you can be today. This will improve both your own and others’ mental health.