April 1st marks the beginning of Autism Acceptance Month when Seattle Children’s intentionally celebrates the individuality and strengths of people with autism.
There are many ways in which we can recognize and bring to the forefront the power of acceptance and advocacy for the autism community. This year, we celebrate with the theme “Come As You Are,” to welcome authentic perspectives and highlight the strengths of individuals with autism in our communities.
To kick off the month-long celebration, we have asked people to share their reflections on this year’s theme to empower every autistic person to thrive and fulfill their full potential. Throughout this campaign, we recognize “Come As You Are” may not be easy or reflect everyone’s reality–we hope this theme can become an aspirational goal as we move towards action to a more inclusive and accepting society.
In the coming weeks, Seattle Children’s will be presenting a variety of narratives through additional blog entries and social media posts. We hope these testimonies will allow each of us to ponder our role in supporting individuals with autism and encourage action and celebration of all.
Read on to hear what “Come As You Are” means to self-advocates, family members, peers, and providers as a glimpse of what’s to come this April.
“’I was content to keep wearing the Helmet of Fate until my wife Inza told me that there is more to life than this. So after seventy years, I decided to take off that helmet and have not put it back on since’ (DC Comics).” – Isaac S.
“Come as you are means no matter who you are you will always be unique and special. We are all different and have different personalities and talents.” – Blair B.
“Come as you are means to be yourself and to be happy with how God made you and others. When you just be yourself people can be happy with you and be cheerful and to make friends.” – Mechelle R.
“I get to be me. Everyone gets an opportunity to be themselves and make friends. I get to share the things I enjoy with my friends and peers. If I can’t do something, nobody judges me. ABC is such an inclusive environment and it’s just such a fun place to be. It makes me so happy and smile. I love to laugh and sing; dance and create with my friends at ABC. They let me be me…” – Kelley F.
“To me, ‘Come As You Are’ is an invitation for everyone to be comfortably and unapologetically themselves! Wouldn’t it be positive and life affirming if every human being could feel accepted, valued, and loved for their uniqueness? Believe it, live it, and spread it!” – Gail B., mother
“’Come As You Are’ means to me “Welcoming.”
As the definition states in the dictionary: Welcoming is to be hospitable and disposed to treat guests and strangers with cordiality and generosity. No matter how [my son] is feeling, on any particular day, good or bad, he is welcomed and accepted at ABC. No matter what he is wearing, costumes and all, he is welcomed and accepted at ABC. It also is incredible to me, how the students are so welcoming, when I have come and volunteered to help out in classes. This is one of the most Welcoming and Friendly Environments I have seen. Everyone at ABC, students and staff alike, are a real Treasure!” – Colene A., mother
Peers & Providers
“I have many friends at ABC who have Autism and they are Amazing! I do have a special friend and a special Bond with Alyssa Burnett she has a sparkle in her eyes and when she looks at me that just warms and melts my heart. When you look at someone who has Autism what do you see? know what I see someone who wants to talk and express and try to talk to their friends. being nonverbal can be hard at times but have you thought about walking in their shoes? I may not have Autism but I love to speak up for my nonverbal friends they want to have a voice and they want to be heard. “Come as you are” A is for Autism is Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.”– Megan H.
“‘Come as you are’ means you can choose your own style and be who you are! It means who you are is perfect and you should live your dream. Don’t let anyone define you. You are perfect whether you have a disability or not!” – Keilana H.
“‘Come as you are’” to me means embracing your strengths and what makes you unique while also knowing when to ask for help. If we all can do this, we create a community that welcomes and includes everyone.” – Gary S.
“To me, ‘come as you are’ means having the permission and acceptance to be authentically you. When I think of this phrase I think of environments where I can be myself and be celebrated for who I am. I think there are many layers to the term ‘acceptance’. Specifically for autism acceptance, I believe it starts with acknowledgment, then moves towards learning and understanding. From there acceptance can be achieved. And finally, this leads towards the place we hope to be–actively welcoming and celebrating the autistic community for exactly who they are.” – Val U.
“Come as you are is the communal reciprocity of safety, openness, bravery, and acceptance; to fearlessly be yourself, empower others to do the same, and embrace others for who they are.” – Alex J.
We hope this year’s Autism Acceptance Month will be an opportunity to reflect on and perhaps challenge your own views and the views of those around you, and serve as inspiration to a continued commitment to acceptance and inclusion. Follow along for more stories and perspectives throughout the month of April via the channels linked below.