The practice of making New Years resolutions offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our past behaviors and consider possibilities for self-improvement. I used to think this tradition was silly and pointless–who could keep up a resolution for a whole year, anyway? But I’ve discovered that the score card doesn’t matter. Progress matters.
A while back I read a book that emphasized taking baby steps to achieve a goal. This may sound trite, but what most stuck with me from this book was the message to deemphasize a focus on the end goal. Instead, place focus on progress. Am I a little better off than I was yesterday? A week ago? A month ago? This helps make big goals seem manageable, and also acknowledges and celebrates improvement, which tends to fuel further progress.
New Years Resolutions, as corny as they might seem, are great starting points for beginning this self-improvement journey. If, as the year comes to a close, and you consider your own self-improvement goals, you decide autism acceptance and advocacy are among them, let me offer 10 simple “Baby Steps” to get you started:
- Pick a blog by an autistic author you like and read it regularly, however often fits your schedule.
- Practice using identity-first language.
- Do your own research. Pick a topic and read what autistics are saying about it (AAC, education, family life, disability policy, autistic representation in literature, stereotypes, ableism, etc.)
- Journal about your struggles. Reflect on any barriers you might have to autism acceptance. Use this as a springboard for topics to research and learn more about throughout the year. You can even document your topics and resources gathered.
- Read a work of fiction or nonfiction written by an autistic person.
- Find an autistic musician you like. Tell others about them.
- Support autistic artists or musicians–pay them for their products or services.
- Make a contribution to an autistic-run organization.
- Share autistic-authored content on social media.
- Learn about common ableist language and avoid it.
All of these steps must flow from a love of the autistic person. Most people enter into advocacy because of that love. But all advocates’ efforts can be refined or improved. These simple steps will hopefully give you a concrete way to keep your autism advocacy efforts rolling this year, to keep inching down the road of progress and acceptance that will not only improve your life, but the lives of so many others as well.