As snowflakes fall and grace the earth

Within the swirling, twinkling white

Exist millions of variations

Each flake a pattern unlike any other

We marvel at the beauty of these flakes

Teaching children to see the uniqueness

As humans move about the earth

A mess of people of all shapes, sizes, colors

We look about us and see their differences

Yet unlike the tiny flakes we behold with awe

We learn to fear and judge those unlike ourselves

 

In this growing world of unique people

Awareness grows of those unlike ourselves

Campaigns run to teach about the different

Bringing awareness to disease and disability

Yet awareness fosters not acceptance

But rather tolerance

 

Tolerance is a nasty beast dressed up in finery

Letting people feel as if they are good and right

For not outright rejecting the different and disabled

It hides behind the language of acceptance

Actions taken for the disabled’s “own good”

 

Tolerance holds down happy, flappy hands

Pinning them to sides while saying “Quiet hands”

Again and again and again until finally

Happiness is lost

Hands flap no more

 

Tolerance says “It’s ok to be different…

Just not like that”

We will celebrate the differences of humanity

Unless you are different in ways that seem odd

Unless you rock or flap or make sounds

Unless you look disabled

Unless, unless, unless

 

Tolerance says “I accept you…

If you seem normal enough for me”

Acceptance conditional

Just don’t talk too long or not all

Just don’t get too excited about a passion

Just don’t move in ways that are different

Just don’t, just don’t, just don’t….

 

Don’t be yourself

Don’t express yourself in movement

Don’t feel so deeply or intensely

Don’t find joy in the world that others can’t see

Don’t get so interested in any one thing

Don’t talk about the things you love

Don’t have different needs or abilities

Don’t be different

For different is only tolerated

 

And so we, the disabled, the autistics

Fight under the banner of acceptance

We fight not to be tolerated

Not to be forced into boxes

Not to be broken down into someone else

But for true acceptance

 

Acceptance of hands that flap and twist and move endlessly

Acceptance of bodies that rock and bounce and move ungracefully

Acceptance of passions that consume and take over

Acceptance of communication in whatever form it takes

Whether from mouth parts, hands, keyboards, or pictures

Acceptance of those who need more help with everyday tasks

Acceptance of those who are different

 

Tolerance allows for the destruction of people

All in the name of normalcy

True acceptance celebrates the ways we differ

Accepting people because of, not in spite of,

The beautiful variations among human beings

 

We, the autistics, fight to be accepted

We don’t want your tolerance

With its quiet hands and ABA

We fight to be accepted just as we are

Which is a beautiful thing