For those experiencing Autism, Asperger’s, anxiety, depression and other neurological and mental health issues, we often hear we should speak up because we will be listened to.
However, it seems when we do, we actually don’t get listened to. More often than not we seem to be told we’re using it as an excuse.
And then we stop speaking up.
Acceptance means accepting that these things really do affect us and do explain why we behave the way we do. We’re not using it as an excuse, we’re using it as a means to understanding and managing our difficulties.
My ex-wife continually told me she accepted my autism (Asperger’s), but didn’t accept my behaviour; said she accepted my autism but when I’d gotten the diagnosis literally word-for-word said “You have a diagnosis, why aren’t you cured?”; said that she accepted my autism but often when I tried to help her (and me) understand my behaviour, said I was using it as an excuse; said she accepted my autism but “it’s not autism, you’re just an asshole”; and finally, said she accepted my autism but when I owned my autism and “came out”, said that I “chose Asperger’s over your wife” and told me to “Move out”.
That is not acceptance.
(On the “asshole” thing, yes sometimes I definitely was. However, I didn’t blame it on autism, my excuse was how I was treated. When you’ve been put for sale on eBay coz you’re not good enough, when she’s put a sign on the car saying “My next husband will be normal” and so on… well sometimes you do have moments where you stop caring about how you come across.)
I love hearing stories where a couple finds out one of them is Aspergers and the NT spouse is rapt because now they have insight and tools for understanding and managing their partner’s Asperger’s.
That is acceptance.
(Those stories also break my heart coz of what I experienced.)
Recently at work (where a lot of them know about my Asperger’s) I was asked to do a something way outside my comfort zone, that pushed so many Asperger’s buttons. In a panic and on the verge of a meltdown, I asked that I be excused from it. They said, “No worries, we don’t want to make you do something you’re not comfortable with.”
That is acceptance.
Acceptance has no “I accept your autism provided you fit this mould”.
Acceptance has no caveats.