"Awareness is easy. Acceptance requires actual work," (ASAN)
What is Autism Acceptance Month?
April is known as Autism Acceptance Month. It is dedicated to celebrating differences and promoting acceptance. It originated from the United Nations' World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 when the Autism Society of America held the first National Autistic Children's Week in 1972.
Calls for change:
Originally, Autism Acceptance Month was called Autism Awareness Month. However, recently, there have been calls to change the way in which autism has been framed and perceived and to change the focus to acceptance rather than awareness. Advocates argue that Autistic people need acceptance and inclusion and not just awareness in order to receive the support that they need from others. Groups such as Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autistic Women and Non-Binary Network, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) also agree with this.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network explains:
"Acceptance of autistic people, like acceptance of pretty much all people, involves moving past surface impressions. It involves trying to understand us, trying to know who we are, not just what our operating system is. People who accept us-or at least those who accept me-have made a conscious effort to not just know what I do, but to relate to why I do it." (ASAN)
According to Psychology today, "It is taking the time to get to know people with autism in all our weird awkwardness and not judging us for it. It is learning about adults with autism and their perspectives and not just embracing the stereotype of the difficult child. It is learning about how autism manifests across the spectrum in well-known people with autism like Temple Grandin, Hannah Gadsby, Elon Musk, Daryl Hannah, and Anthony Hopkins," (Psychology Today).
As a result of this, in 2020, the 'awareness' was replaced with 'acceptance' and is now called Autism Acceptance Month instead. This was completed by the Autism Society of America and they are now encouraging the government of the United States to make a formally announce April as Autism Acceptance Month. Christopher Banks, president and CEO of The Autism Society of America felt that:
"Awareness is knowing that somebody has autism," Banks said. "Acceptance is when you include (a person with autism) in your activities. Help (them) to develop in that community and get that sense of connection to other people," (Christopher Banks).
Calls for change and Autism Acceptance Month colors:
Traditionally, the color of Autism Acceptance Month has been blue. Many locations used to light up buildings with blue lights, fundraise, hold celebrations or have a wear blue day. The aim was to both celebrate differences and raise awareness of autism. However, recently there have been calls to change the way in which autism has been framed and to focus on acceptance rather than awareness. Because of this, many people now feel that the color blue should not represent Autism Acceptance Month as it is associated with Autism Speaks and recent controversy. There are now calls for a different colors to represent Autism Acceptance Month.
See links below to read more:
How to celebrate?
There are lots of different ways to celebrate Autism Acceptance Week. A good starting point is to check out how it is being celebrated near you:
· The National Autistic Association in the UK, has lots of fundraisers and events. CLICK HERE!
· ASIAM in Ireland is also celebrating! CLICK HERE!
We have lots of neuro-diversity resources which are also great for promoting acceptance!