I’m Not Sure How I Feel About The ‘Acceptance’ Part Of Autism Acceptance Month

by Dr. Lisa Peña
Courtesy of Dr. Lisa Pena

I’ve struggled to put into words how I feel this Autism Acceptance Month.

This is mainly because I haven’t bought into that word.


The definition of “acceptance” is the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered. Like a payment.


…the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group. Like a university.

It just doesn’t feel right, does it?

I don’t want you to accept Isla, I want you to empower her, educate her, and employ her.

I don’t want the mass media to accept autism, I want equal representation of autism in film, television, commercials, print ads, magazines, and modeling.

I don’t want families to teach their children to accept Isla because she has autism, I want families to teach their children to defend and protect and love their most vulnerable peers when they are on the playground and in the classroom.

I don’t want schools to accept autism, I want schools to hire BCBAs for every district.

Courtesy of Dr. Lisa Pena

I want schools to fund effective autism support for special education and general education teachers.

I want schools to ensure there’s a certified adaptive PE coach for every campus.

I want every school to provide and properly use clinically-supported sensory rooms.

I want schools to encourage their students and student athletes to attend and support Special Olympic events.

I want schools to make it their culture to view all challenging behaviors as skills to be taught not problems to be punished.

I don’t want our country to accept autism, I want every healthcare professional to smile wide when they give the diagnosis to a parent.

I want for them to speak with positive and tender care as they explain that the journey of a lifetime lies ahead.

I want them to tell those parents that they are about to experience the human brain in a way they never thought possible and as they witness their child learn and process the world with such a unique lens, their own view of people, opinions, attitudes, ideas, and perspectives will be challenged and lovingly reshaped.

I don’t want you to accept Isla this month… I want you to celebrate her.