More than anything, the Autism Society of North Carolina’s IGNITE program is a community where young adults on the autism spectrum find the acceptance and friendship they want and deserve. For the first time, they are going out with friends, driving, and dating. They are embarking on new educational journeys and landing jobs. The acceptance that our members find at the IGNITE community center in Davidson, NC – and the growth that follows – gives them the confidence to become more involved in the other communities around them.
So for Autism Awareness Month, we thought we would ask these wise young adults to share their perspectives on the higher goal: acceptance and inclusion into the greater community.
What would ASD acceptance look like to you?
“ASD acceptance to me would be where everyone, or mostly everyone, would look at people with Asperger’s or autism as not being different, but being just the same as every other human being. We just have different needs and think differently than others.”
“It wouldn’t be considered a ‘disability.’”
“Everyone would be accepting me the way I am without judgement.”
Why is acceptance just as important, if not more, than awareness?
“Once people ‘accept’ something that is different from the ‘status quo,’ they will most likely discover that it cannot be a hindrance to our already striving society, but will make the big picture of their lives even better. In other words, autism acceptance is important because those on the spectrum have unique skills that others might not have that can be useful out in the workplace or anywhere in general.”
“If people accept you, it means they know about ASD and don’t judge you for it. Awareness is just knowing about it.”
What opportunities would be opened up to you if the world was accepting of ASD?
“If there were ‘real’ job opportunities, it would open up so many pathways, such as purchasing a car to get to and from work, and living independently like everyone else our age.”
“I think I would be more open to doing things if the world was accepting to Asperger’s and autism, which would lead to more opportunities for me.”
What is one thing you think is misunderstood about autism or you wish people understood?
“I just wish that people would walk at least a mile – or better still, a week – in our shoes so they can have more understanding about how challenging it is when you know you can contribute so much to society and work alongside your peers and yet nobody gives you a chance to support yourself financially.”
“Some of us can do everything anyone else can do. I wish everyone knew that.”
“Just because we don’t understand, doesn’t mean you can’t explain it to us.”
What would ASD acceptance mean to you?
“Emotionally, it would mean happiness, acceptance, joy, more friends, having people accept my baggage and really more understanding.”
“To me, ASD acceptance means – and should be – a huge milestone in our history when the veil of ignorance and prejudice can finally be cast down and all neurotypicals can see that, like them, we share a common goal: living life as best we can and making a better future for ourselves and for our families.”
“It would mean me and many others like me could live life that doesn’t make fun of or look down on us for being us. I would like that very much.”
IGNITE, which was founded with support from the Evernham Family-Racing for a Reason Foundation, offers activities, skills training, and educational workshops that foster social, financial, educational, and employment independence for its members.Tags: #A2AforAutism, ASNC, Asperger Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome, autism, autism acceptance, autism advocacy, autism awareness, autism employment, autism north carolina, autism society north carolina, autism society of NC, Autism Society of North Carolina, Autism spectrum, IGNITE