Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability often characterized by significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. There is no one-size-fits-all description of ASD, but it generally refers to difficulties with social interaction, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.
April is designated as Autism Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to learn more about ASD and how to support people who live with it. Here is a little history of how the month came to be.
The history behind Autism Awareness month
Autism awareness month was first observed in 1970. The Autism Society of America started it to promote understanding and acceptance of people with autism. The goal of the society was to “improve the lives of all affected by autism.”
Two years later, in 1972, the Society held the first annual National Autistic Children’s week. The week-long event was designed to increase public awareness of autism and raise funds for research and services. Over time, the week eventually became a month-long event, dubbed Autism Awareness Month.
Finally, in 2021, the name was changed to Autism Acceptance Month (AAM), shifting the focus from awareness to lifelong acceptance and support for people with autism. So, what’s autism awareness month all about? Let’s take a look.
When is autism awareness month?
Every year, the entire month of April is dedicated to Autism Awareness Month. During this time, autism awareness is spread in an attempt to promote understanding and acceptance of people with autism. The month is spearheaded by autism awareness day, which occurs on 2 April and was first observed in 2008.
This special day aims to spotlight the condition and help people understand it better, which is crucial, as people with autism often face discrimination and a lack of understanding from neurotypical individuals.
So, you’re likely curious about how you can do your part to support acceptance and support for people on the spectrum. Never fear; there are many ways you can participate during the month of April and carry on throughout the year if you so wish!
How can I participate in Autism Acceptance Month?
Here are some suggestions for how you can get involved and show your support for Autism Acceptance Month.
1. Educate yourself and others about autism
Start by learning more about what autism is and what it isn’t. There are many myths and misconceptions, so it’s essential to get accurate information. This can help you disprove any misinformation you may have heard and better understand and support people on the autism spectrum.
Once you’ve educated yourself, share what you’ve learned with others. This could be through informal conversation, social media exchanges, or more formal presentations. For example, you could give a presentation at work or to your child’s class. You might also want to write an article or blog post about autism acceptance.
Next, you should work your way through the steps of the Kindness Campaign.
2. Commit to kindness
Kindness costs nothing but can be priceless to those who receive it. This April, show your support for people with autism by spreading a little extra kindness their way. If we work together and take action by donating to a cause or volunteering our time, we can create a kinder, gentler world for all.
Once you’ve committed to kindness, the next step is to connect with others to share it.
3. Connect with kindness
Education is key to supporting people on the spectrum. Using social media to share information, stories, and resources can increase global understanding and acceptance of those with ASD.
After you’ve taken stock of your connections and used them to share your support, it’s time to take charge.
4. Lead with kindness
Why not step into the spotlight and advocate for changes in policy or funding for people on the spectrum? Better yet, organize a fundraiser in your workplace dedicated to supporting workers on the spectrum.
There are as many ways you can lead the charge as there are people with autism. Get involved and make a difference by leading, teaching, and helping others learn about autism.
5. Learn with kindness
Focusing on learning kindness and understanding in schools for those who think differently can help shape how new generations accept, support, and interact with their peers on the spectrum.
By teaching and modeling acceptance in the classroom daily, educators will support children with autism and, more importantly, show their neurotypical peers how to interact with compassion and respect differences. When everyone shows they care, life in the neurotypical world becomes more enjoyable for those with ASD.
6. Care with kindness
One of the best ways to show you care is to access and share resources with people who want to learn more about autism. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Learn the signs of autism and what they mean.
- Talk with friends, family, or your community about how they can support people with autism.
- Find out what services and supports are available in your area for people with autism and their families, such as the Autism Support Team with Autism Speaks. Their role is to answer questions, help you find support in your community, and connect you with those resources.
- Become a mentor or volunteer in programs that support people with autism.
Now that you’ve taken all the steps, your next one is to give whatever you can to help out.
7. Give with kindness
During Autism Awareness Month, many organizations seek donations to help support their programs and services for people with autism. Your donation can make a big difference in the lives of people with autism and their families.
There are many ways you can give, either by donating, making purchases in our online store, or showing your support for our corporate partners. Every little bit helps and goes a long way toward making a difference.
So now you know how you can get involved, let’s review the goals of Autism Acceptance Month.
Goals of Autism Acceptance Month
The reason autism acceptance month was established was to:
- Educate the public about autism and create awareness of the disorder
- Promote understanding, acceptance, and inclusion for those with autism in society
- Celebrate autistic people’s strengths and contributions to their communities
- Encourage self-advocacy among autistic individuals
- Support research into causes, treatments, and cures
- Raise funds for autism charities
Hopefully by all working together during Autism Acceptance Month, we can raise the level of awareness and support for everyone in our autism community.
What are you going to do during Autism Acceptance Month?
Autism Acceptance Month is an important event that allows us to recognize and celebrate autistic people in our lives. It encourages us to create a more inclusive society where everyone is accepted for who they are and respected regardless of any differences.
As we come together as a community, let’s challenge ourselves to become better allies by educating ourselves on autism and amplifying the voices of those with autism. Through increased understanding and support, we can foster an environment where acceptance of neurodiversity thrives.
If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.