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Autism Awareness is Not Enough

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Note:  The link-up is still going strong and has lots of resources.  Recently a number of bloggers linked up posts and freebies to it, so if you haven’t checked it out lately, you might want to check it again.  Click any of those links if you want to go directly there.
As those who have been reading the blog know, I am focusing on autism awareness and acceptance throughout the month of April.  As the prevalence of autism has steadily increased, the focus on autism in this month has increased with the United Nations to declare World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.  Increasingly, individuals on the autism spectrum have been advocating for themselves and making their voices heard on the need for autism awareness.  This year the push has increased to focus on autism acceptance.  As autism becomes more and more prevalent, awareness is not sufficient.  Just knowing that autism exists is not enough to improve the quality of life of individuals on the spectrum.  Awareness is not enough to the life of our students with ASD better and making this world a better place for them to live.  Instead, autism acceptance means accepting individuals with autism and recognizing that they are individuals with strengths and challenges just like the rest of us.  Acceptance does not mean passively accepting their challenges any more than we would accept the challenges that any of our children / students/ family member present to us.  However, acceptance does mean understanding autism and listening to what individuals on the spectrum have to say to us about what they need.  It also means helping the world become a more accepting place them through advocacy.  So, to try to help this shift in focus, let me share some resources on this movement and refocus of April as Autism Acceptance Month.
For more information about the movement to take back April and the focus on acceptance instead of awareness, check out this website.  In particular, check out the the resources for educators and families in addition to general resources and resources for those on the spectrum.  I particularly like their description of what acceptance means and why it’s important.
If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend checking out the Autism Society (it used to be the Autism Society of America, but it’s no longer limited to the US).  However, one of the things I have always loved about them is their inclusion of individuals on the spectrum in the decision-making process and dialogue (as well as their friendliness towards families very early on in the autism dialogue. In addition to the Panel of Professional Advisors (which I am part of), there is a Panel of Persons on the Spectrum who provide advice and guidance to the organization.   I wrote a post about my feelings about the organization (before my appointment) that better describes my focus on the importance of the organization.  You can find information about what autism is as well as the push for advocacy and particularly for the push for more services across the life span at their site.
Certainly there are lots of organizations out there that provide resources that support autism acceptance and please feel free to share them in the comments.  In addition, what are some ways that you and others can help to support the effort to move beyond awareness to acceptance.  Comment below to participate in the discussion or on my Facebook page.

2 thoughts on “Autism Awareness is Not Enough”

  1. Great article. I'm going to be attending a board meeting for my son's school, and want to cover why autism awareness is only the beginning, and why acceptance is so important. How do you feel about acceptance by a child's "normal" peers, and how that improves the lives of children (and adults) on the spectrum? I feel that my son is standing on the outside, looking into a window of room filled with "normal" kids, interacting with eachother doing "normal" things, etc.

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