Autism Acceptance Month
Image source: myautism.org
April marks Autism Acceptance Month an Saturday, April 2, 2022 was recognized as World Autism Awareness Day. This day was first recognized in 2008 by the United Nations General Assembly with the goal of helping to improve the quality of life of individuals with autism.
Autism Acceptance Month was originally known as Autism Awareness Month. According to president and CEO of The Autism Society of America, Christopher Banks, "Awareness is knowing that somebody has autism… 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."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, 1 in 44 U.S. children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and more than 2% of adults in the U.S. are estimated to have ASD. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by brain differences. These differences make people with this condition often behave, communicate, and learn in ways different from most people. Scientists continue to research the causes because they think there are several factors, with genetics being just one. It is important to note that people with ASD have varying abilities and that their physical appearance are not appropriate indicators of their condition.
Furthermore, it is crucial that educational and social programs are readily available for those with ASD and for the public to be educated on how to support this population. Since about 20% of young adults with autism will interact with a police officer before they are 21 and people with disabilities are five times more likely to be incarcerated, appropriate first-responder training is vital. Similarly, more than 70% of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed and especially given the current labor shortages, employers could greatly benefit from the skills autistic and neurodiverse individuals bring.
Image source: autismspeaks
Although some progress has been made towards increasing access to education for people with autism, with the closure of many schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, inequalities in education have worsened and students with autism have been disproportionately affected due to disruptions to routines and lack of access to services and supports. Inclusive education is an essential part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Goal 4 (SDG 4), which focuses on ensuring “equal access to all levels of education and vocational training” for persons with disabilities and building and upgrading education facilities that are disability sensitive and that provide “inclusive and effective learning environments for all.”
Everyone, whether you have autism, know someone who does, or are looking to support this community, is encouraged to participate in Autism Acceptance Month. It is only through sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism that commitment to creating a world where people with autism reach their full potential can be built. Supporters can participate in the initiative by visiting autismspeaks.org/wam to learn more about ways they can get involved.
Autism Speaks. www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-awareness-day. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
Moya, Maria Jimenez. "Autism Acceptance Month Is Underway. Here's Why the Name Is Important." USA Today, www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2022/04/02/autism-acceptance-month-name-change/7243001001/. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.