From Awareness to Acceptance
This article was originally published in PresenceLearning’s April Telepractice Today.
The Autism Society Society of America first launched efforts to promote awareness of autism in 1970. This year, the Autism Society, along with leading disability organizations in the U.S., have announced that they are making a shift in official designation from Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month. They are calling on the government and media to move from “awareness” to “acceptance” to “foster change and inclusivity for those affected by autism.” In a March 4 Press Release, the Autism Society explains:
The shift in the use of terminology aims to foster acceptance to ignite change through improved support and opportunities in education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care, and comprehensive long-term services.
While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life. As many individuals and families affected by autism know, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system.
—Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America
Autism community advocates across the country have a long-standing history of using the term “acceptance” as a means of more fully integrating those 1 in every 54 Americans living with autism into our social fabric. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has been framing April as Autism Acceptance Month since 2011, stating “Acceptance of autism as a natural condition in the human experience is necessary for real dialogue to occur.
You can read more here about the Autism Society’s efforts “to have President Biden issue a proclamation stating April as Autism Acceptance Month, embracing the inclusive goals of the community and aligning with the consistent language autism organizations and individual advocates have been using for years.”
President Biden has long been an advocate of fostering acceptance for people with disabilities. Throughout his career, he has worked to pass anti-discrimination protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, the original Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975, and the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
PresenceLearning will be participating in Autism Acceptance Month’s April 2021 campaign, #CelebrateDifferences, in a variety of ways. We’ll be posting more here on the blog, including our recent article “Sharing a Different Point of View on Autism” with artist and motivational speaker, D.J. Svoboda. Keep an eye on the PL Facebook page and PL Twitter throughout the month for our dedicated posts.