April was once known as Autism Awareness Month. But in 2021, the designation became Autism Acceptance Month.
It’s a simple – but important – review.
The Autism Society of America announced the suggested terminology change last year, urging the media to follow suit, to spark change in the lives of people with autism and their families, said Christopher Banks, president and CEO. leadership of the Autism Society of America. .
“Awareness is knowing that someone has autism,” Banks said. “Acceptance is when you include (an autistic person) in your activities. Help them grow in that community and get that sense of connection with others.”
Awareness of the condition, with which about 1 in 44 American children have been identified, is still important and Saturday April 2 is known as World Autism Awareness Day.
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In a proclamation issued Friday, President Biden said, “I call on all Americans to learn more about autism to improve early diagnosis, to learn more about autistic people’s experiences with autistic people, and to build more welcoming and inclusive communities to support people with autism.”
Autism is identified by a range of conditions, which can affect how individuals behave, communicate, interact and learn, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 1 in 44 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and more than 2% of adults in the United States are estimated to have ASD, according to CDC estimates.
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Educational and social programs are key to improving opportunities for people with autism. Encouraging inclusive employment, living and social environment can help with community acceptance of autism, Banks said.
“We believe that by connecting, we empower all members of the autism community with the resources to live life to the fullest,” he said.
In the name of inclusion, the Autism Society of America drew attention to a few national initiatives this month, including:
- First responder training: About 20% of young adults with autism will “interact with a police officer” before they turn 21, and people with disabilities, including autism, are five times more likely to be incarcerated, the group says.
- Defense of employment: More than 70% of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed, depending on the group. “Given the current labor shortage, employers could benefit from expanding their candidate pool through inclusive hiring practices. People with autism and neurodiverse people bring important skills that can be leveraged when ‘they are supported by inclusion and accommodations where needed.’
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Autism Awareness Day History
April 2 was officially recognized as World Autism Awareness Day in 2008 with unanimous declarations from the United Nations General Assembly. The goal was to help improve the quality of life of people with autism.
The campaign began as “an initiative rooted in the medical model of autism and focused on children with autism and the search for a cure,” wrote Ludmila Praslova, professor and director of graduate programs in industrial psychology and organization at Vanguard University of Southern California, who has autism, in the Harvard Business Review on Friday.
Today, many adults with autism take a different perspective, she writes, seeking “acceptance and inclusion rather than a cure and prefer the symbolism of diversity and wholeness.”
Workplaces, for example, “can do much better than having an outdated, performative autism awareness day,” Praslova wrote. “Celebrating autism acceptance and inclusion rather than just awareness can not only improve the well-being of your autistic employees.”
Contributor: Mike Snider