In 1972, the Autism Society launched the first-ever annual National Autistic Children’s week, which later became known as Autism Acceptance Month, a nation wide effort to promote awareness and understanding for people with Autism. This year, the Autism Society of America, the nation’s oldest leading grassroots autism organization, is proud to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month in April 2021 with its “Celebrate Differences” campaign, as they join with other local, state, and national disability organizations to shift focus from awareness to acceptance.
This shift comes in response to the autism community feeling that acceptance is a growing need within the community as autistic individuals continue to face challenges when looking for employment, housing, and affordable health care.
The goal for Autism Acceptance Month per the Autism Society of America, is to “further increase awareness about autism signs, symptoms and opportunities through: information and referrals, events, printable and digital resources, and community partnerships with businesses and organizations dedicated to building inclusive experiences.”
By shifting the focus, the goal is to promote acceptance and celebration of autistic people (many of whom prefer identity-first language to people-first language). According to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s article on Autism Acceptance Month, “Autism is a natural variation of the human experience, and we can all create a world which values, includes, and celebrates all kinds of minds.” By focusing on acceptance, the goal is to improve support and opportunities across all aspects of life, including education, employment, and health care.
While every day is a celebration of autism for The Coordinating Center’s Autism Waiver Services Team, this month, the team will be meeting to discuss the importance of this shift, as well as to review perspectives from autistic persons about symbols, language, and inclusivity.
By Sheri Weissman
Director Autism Waiver Services
The Coordinating Center