X is for XENOPHOBIA
Xenophobia is defined as: “an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange.” – Dictionary.com. Another definition listed on Wikipedia is: “…unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar.”
Society as a whole does not accept change well, it does not welcome diversity with open arms; instead, it revels in uniformity. The basic fact of the matter is that the unknown scares people, because they do not know what to expect. Unfortunately, it seems as though everything has become about conformity and control, which can be quite distressing to anyone who does not fit into the preconceived notion of “normal.”
Our world and everything in it, especially its people, is constantly evolving. Who is to say that Autism is not the next stage of evolution? The mind of an Autistic individual is extraordinary, their senses often heightened, they can see and visualize things that we could never fathom. They function on different levels than most typical individuals, which many times is a simultaneous blessing and curse. They have differing abilities, but this is nothing to fear or discriminate against. Now is the time to educate people, and advocate for Autism Acceptance and equal treatment for ALL.
The first step toward Autism Acceptance starts with us, because the way we talk about our Autistic loved ones, is how society will view them. We must be careful not to overemphasize the positives or the negatives of Autism; we should simply be honest about what life is really like in a Special Needs family.
The truth is… It is not easy, and some days are so hard all we can do is cry, and pray for tomorrow to be better. Some days are wonderful and fill us with pride and joy. Our Autistic loved ones suffer in ways that we may never fully understand. Every day they make progress in their own way. They are asked to constantly battle their own systems to appear more “normal.” They see the true beauty in the world through innocence and love. The way most of our loved ones are treated is beyond horrible, and it needs to change! We need to accept all Autistic people as they are, love them for who they are, embrace their diversity and teach them to navigate this world as best they can. We must teach them to be proud of themselves, especially their struggles and triumphs, so they can stand strong against the fear and ignorance in the world.
We need to show everyone that Autism is not to be feared, because sometimes the most amazing blessings come in unique packages, which we cannot understand or control. If we seize opportunities to educate people, on what Autism means to us and our loved ones, we can change the perception society has of Autistic individuals. We can start to move from discrimination to acceptance. In the words of Aldous Huxley: “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” Let’s start closing those negative doors, and opening positive doors, by being Autism Proud.
Xenophobia “Our way” is defined as: “An unfounded fear of the unknown, based on a lack of knowledge and understanding, which can have devastating effects for everyone.”
Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.