Should You Celebrate Autism "Awareness" or "Acceptance"? (2022)

April is Autism Awareness Month, and April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. During the entire month of April, you'll hear about autism-oriented fundraisers, autism awareness presentations, autism-friendly happenings, and special opportunities to recognize people on the autism spectrum. You'll also notice that most people involved with these activities are wearing the color blue. In fact, you might even notice buildings (including major top architectural icons) "lighting it up blue" on April 2.

Most of the people who celebrate Autism Awareness Day or Month are not autistic. Instead, they are parents, organizers, and others who care for or about autism. But where are the autistic self-advocates? In many cases, they are actively avoiding the celebrations.

Different responses to Autism Awareness Day and Month come about as a result of the history of the events, the intent behind the events, and the people who created them.

Read more about the top autism charities that deserve your support.

Should You Celebrate Autism "Awareness" or "Acceptance"? (1)

The Origins of Autism Awareness

Autism, as a diagnosis, has changed radically over the past several decades. Back before the 1990s, autism was not considered to be a spectrum disorder. Thus anyone with an autism diagnosis had relatively severe symptoms. Many professionals believed that autism was a result of poor parenting; the famous psychologist Bruno Bettelheim wrote extensively about what he called"refrigerator" mothering. An adult with autism was typically thought to require an institutional setting.

The movie "Rain Man," with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, provides a good insight into autism in those days. Hoffman's character has been institutionalized for most of his life, despite his verbal and intellectual abilities. Leaving the institution is a frightening experience; he requires full-timecare from his brother in order to successfully navigate the outside world.

Enter Dr. Bernard Rimland. A psychologist with an autistic son, he debunked the "refrigerator mother" theory and created an organization called The Autism Society. The Autism Society began its first nationwide awareness program in the early 1970s. It was adopted by Congress in 1984. The iconic autism awareness ribbon was designed in 1999.

(Video) Beyond Autism Awareness... To Acceptance And Appreciation! (World Autism Awareness Day 2021)

Autism Speaks and Autism Awareness

In 2005, Autism Speaks was founded.Created and funded by the extremely wealthy and influential Bob and Suzanne Wright (who have a grandson with autism), the organization quickly became the major autism-related non-profit in the world. With their strong connections, the Wrights were able to create very high profile autism awareness programs, including:

  • World Autism Awareness Day (April 2), adopted by the United Nations in 2007
  • Light It Up Blue, an international effort to light iconic buildings in blue to raise awareness of autism

Autism Speaks sells blue T-shirts, provides resources to groups interested in fundraising or running autism-related programs, and also promotes fundraising marches and events during the month of April. Institutions ranging from museums and zoos to libraries, schools, and even businesses run special events during that period.

Events That Take Place During Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month kicks off on April 2 (to avoid April Fool's Day) with World Autism Awareness Day. On that day, you can expect to see an awful lot of blue. People in blue T-shirts, homes with blue lights, and personal profiles with a blue puzzle piece will be everywhere. There will also be media coverage of autism, special stories about autistic people, and promotion of merchandise featuring the autism puzzle piece icon.

Look for buildings lit with the blue light. In the past, some iconic buildings that have been lit up blue include the Empire State Building in New York City, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and the CN Building in Toronto.

During the month of April you'll find, among other things:

  • special "sensory friendly" days at all kinds of venues, from movie theaters to amusement parks
  • autism awareness events at schools, community centers, hospitals, and elsewhere
  • fundraising marches and events across the United States and beyond

Why Doesn't Everyone Love Autism Awareness Month?

Because Autism Speaks has become such a large and ubiquitous organization, it essentially "owns" autism awareness month. Television specials, telethons, multimedia advertising, and other forms of outreach are all part of the event.

But Autism Speaks has had—and continues to have—a very questionable relationship with the autism community. Both autistic self-advocates and many groups of parents have had issues with their funding priorities, governance, and perspectives on the causes of autism. While some issues have gone away (such as the presentation of autism as an evil force stealing babies from their carriages), others are still of concern.

Just a few of the issues people have with Autism Speaks:

  • For most of its existence, Autism Speaks had no autistic people on its board. From time to time very high functioning individuals have gotten involved, but at least one individual resigned after a short tenure.
  • Autism Speaks, from its very inception, has been about "curing" what many autistic self-advocates (and quite a few parents) feel is a set of personal qualities rather than a "disease." Thus, instead of accepting children and adults with autism, Autism Speaks has been all about "fixing" them. Over time, many programs have emerged that are more supportive of people living with autism—but bad feelings have remained.
  • The Wright's daughter, Katie, was convinced her son's autism resulted from vaccinations. Thus, despite numerous large, well-documented studies to the contrary, Autism Speaks put quite a bit of research money into yet more digging into vaccines as a cause of autism. This focus has nearly disappeared at this point, but it is still a sore point.
  • The vast majority of the many resources created by Autism Speaks are intended, not for people with autism, but for their parents and families.

For many families, particularly those who benefit from or support programs at Autism Speaks, Autism Awareness Month is a very important observance. For those with a different "neurodiverse" perspective, however, Autism Acceptance may be a better choice.

(Video) Autism Acceptance vs Autism Awareness

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(Video) Why Autism Acceptance Not Awareness, According to People on the Autism Spectrum

8 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. DeVilbiss EA, Lee BK. Brief report: trends in u. S. National autism awareness from 2004 to 2014: the impact of national autism awareness month.J Autism Dev Disord. 2014;44(12):3271-3273.

    doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2160-4

  2. Evans B. How autism became autism: The radical transformation of a central concept of child development in Britain.History of the Human Sciences. 2013;26(3):3-31. doi: 10.1177/0952695113484320

  3. van Rosmalen L, van der Veer R, van der Horst FC. The nature of love: Harlow, Bowlby and Bettelheim on affectionless mothers.Hist Psychiatry. 2020;31(2):227-231. doi: 10.1177%2F0957154X19898997

  4. The Autism Society. Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going The Autism Society’s Proud History.

  5. Autism Speaks. About Us.

  6. United Nations. Press Conference By Qatar on World Autism Day.

  7. Autism Speaks. World Autism Month FAQ.

  8. The New York Times. Autism Debate Strains a Family and its Charity.

    (Video) Autism Awareness vs. Acceptance: What's the Difference?

(Video) Autism Month 2017: Celebrate diversity, Promote Acceptance

FAQs

Why is it important to spread awareness about autism? ›

With greater public awareness on autism, it can help not just individuals with autism, but also make lives easier for families and caregivers. In addition, we also enrich our society by accepting the wonderful differences that we all have.

Why do we celebrate autism awareness? ›

Using the Day to Appreciate Autism

World Autism Awareness Day helps neurotypical individuals recognize that the world is a better place when we all understand neurodivergence, like autism spectrum disorder, and work to accommodate these differences.

Why is acceptance for autism important? ›

Where awareness tell us about autism as a condition, acceptance shines a light on real autistic people, living real lives. By accepting autistic children and adults as they are, and celebrating their strengths, talents and contributions to society, we open the door to compassion and understanding.

How do you show autism acceptance? ›

Moving from autism awareness to acceptance: Tips to promote acceptance and inclusion in everyday life
  1. Diversify your child's bookshelf. ...
  2. Instead of dismissing, try educating. ...
  3. Offer support through advocacy. ...
  4. Use language appropriate to the individual. ...
  5. Focus on strengths, not just challenges. ...
  6. Expand your social circle.

How do we celebrate autism awareness? ›

5 Ways to Celebrate Autism Awareness All Month Long
  1. Recommend and go to Autism-Friendly Businesses! ...
  2. Raise awareness with what you wear. ...
  3. Learn about fantastic people with autism. ...
  4. Read a new autism blog. ...
  5. Recommend your favorite autism books or check out some new ones.
Apr 2, 2022

Why is public awareness important? ›

Public awareness is important to increase enthusiasm and support, stimulate self-mobilisation and action, and mobilise local knowledge and resources. Raising political awareness is important as policy makers and politicians are key actors in the policy process of adaptation.

What is the difference between acceptance and awareness? ›

Awareness is simply realizing that someone has a challenge. Acceptance is engaging in a real conversation with them. Awareness is seeing someone with a disability do something you maybe didn't expect. Acceptance is telling them they are awesome, cheering them on or working together with them.

A discussion on the importance of the shift from Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month.

If you have a connection to the autism community—or even if you don’t—you may have heard that April is Autism Awareness Month, also referred to as World Autism Month.. There is no formal designation for this month, but the celebration evolved from the Autism Society of America’s first National Autistic Children’s Week in 1972 and the United Nations’ official observance of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.. In many places, Autism Awareness Month is a big deal—homes, buildings, and landmarks will glow with blue lights, part of Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue campaign.. In 2020, the Autism Society of America replaced “Awareness” with “Acceptance” for the first time and is now urging the United States government to formally declare April Autism Acceptance Month.. Autistic people need not just awareness, but acceptance and inclusion in order to have true support from their communities.. The Autism Society of America isn’t the first autism organization to push for a rebranding of AAM.. The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) has called April “Autism Acceptance Month” since 2011, saying: “Acceptance of autism as a natural condition in the human experience is necessary for real dialogue to occur.” Other groups, such as the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autistic Women and Non-Binary Network, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), and more, also use Autism Acceptance Month over Autism Awareness Month.. Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society, said: “While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life.. Ultimately, the goal of Autism Acceptance Month is to be more inclusive of the very community it seeks to celebrate.. Don't miss out on our special offer.. For example, Lyric Holmans, creator of a blog called NeuroDivergent Rebel , tweeted: “Autism Awareness – knowing autistic people exist.. Autistic Acceptance – accepting autistic people as they are, strengths and weaknesses.. Sarinah O’Donoghue wrote in a BBC article that: “Moving from ‘awareness,’ which is often used in discourses on disease and illness, towards ‘acceptance,’ which is more positive, will help to destigmatize the condition and enable autistic people to speak about our condition on our terms.”. Another autistic author, Elle Love, wrote that: “Creating awareness was the first step in our conversation about disability inclusion, however, acceptance enforces awareness and reflects how our society should celebrate the differences and abilities that neurodivergent people have.”. The shift toward Autism Acceptance Month will hopefully lead to more resources for people on the spectrum and their families, better quality of life, and a more inclusive world.

Autism awareness is one of the best ways to create a more understanding and accepting world for our children and loved ones with autism. A great way to show your...

A great way to show your support and advocate for autism awareness is by celebrating Autism Awareness Month.. How to support autism awareness How to celebrate Autism Awareness Day.. Autism Awareness Month is in April, and it is one of the best opportunities to help spread autism awareness education.. National Awareness Day for Autism is April 2 nd ; it helps kick off Autism Awareness Month.. Autism acceptance is an addition to autism awareness with the goal of making people with autism feel good about who they are without suggesting changes.. Often, people mistake autism awareness as a movement to help ‘fix’ people with autism.. Here are 10 of our favorite ways to show love to the autism community during Autism Awareness Month:. Follow Blogs or Social Media Pages That Support Autism : Whether it is a foundation posting research and fundraising, or individuals with autism documenting their life journey, online support is critical for autism awareness.. Learn and Share Information About Autism Safety: Autism Awareness extends into the unique safety needs of people with autism.. Be Open-Minded to All Autism Allies: Autism awareness and being an ally can be a deeply personal journey, especially if you have family members or loved ones who need support for autism.. Blue has historically been the worldwide color for autism support, and there is no harm in wearing any color to support the autism community’s efforts.. In order to support autism awareness and acceptance, we recommend you wear rainbow colors or display them on Autism Awareness Day, which is April 2 nd , 2022.. The best way to celebrate Autism Awareness Day is by finding a comfortable way for you to participate and support your loved ones with autism.

“Autism” is a medical condition and should be treated with the same dignity and grave concern as all other serious medical conditions. “Celebrating the disorder that brings so muc…

treat our children’s medical conditions, bring any real improvement to their lives, or prevent any of the many environmental causes”. A majority of children with an ASD diagnosis have mitochondrial dysfunction that can contribute to most of the hallmark behavior and health signs of ASD.. You are your child’s biggest advocate in a society that would have you believe autism is something to celebrate.. Autism is treatable, and it up to us as parents to help them heal.. There are many, many co-occurring medical conditions that exist often for those living with autism such as seizures, mitochondrial dysfunction, digestive disorders (leaky gut), allergies, autoimmune disorders, etc.. If you, or any family you know, could use support healing a child with autism, please check out the Facebook Group for Parents helping Parents: Recovering Kids. We celebrate our children and their healing!. Not their autism.”

Forward-looking organizations can do much better than having an outdated, performative Autism Awareness Day. People outside of the autism community often receive contradictory information about which “awareness” efforts are welcomed, with the mainstream media, parents of autistic children, and adult autistic self-advocates presenting very different perspectives. The confusion over the language and symbolism reflects the philosophical divide between the medical perspective on autism that has primarily dominated the awareness conversation in the mainstream and the neurodiversity perspective. Leaders need to understand the origins of these mixed and changing messages, then take steps to celebrate and include the autistic community meaningfully.

But well-meaning company leaders may find that their intentions don’t match their impact, because the messaging of traditional “autism awareness” can actually alienate autistic people and strengthen the fear they may feel about “coming out.”. People outside of the autism community often receive contradictory information about which “awareness” efforts are welcomed, with the mainstream media, parents of autistic children, and adult autistic self-advocates presenting very different perspectives.. The confusion over the language and symbolism reflects the philosophical divide between the medical perspective on autism that has primarily dominated the awareness conversation in the mainstream and the neurodiversity perspective.. Autism Awareness Day began in 2007 as an initiative rooted in the medical model of autism and focused on autistic children and finding a cure.. They also prefer identity-first language ( autistic person) rather than person-first language (person with autism), similar to other marginalized communities that wish to reclaim their identity.. When well-meaning company leaders make plans to mark Autism Awareness Day, that sometimes takes the form of messaging based on potentially harmful stereotypes or outdated messaging, such as “light up the blue” (blue is associated with fundraising for the cure and also perpetuates the stereotype that autism is more common in boys than in girls, who are underdiagnosed ) and puzzle pieces (which to many connote incompleteness), along with walks for a cure and “autism” events that center non-autistic speakers.. Celebrating autism acceptance and inclusion rather than simply awareness can not only improve the well-being of your autistic employees, but it can also:. Help shift societal views on autism toward positivity Amplify the strength and vibrance of autistic culture Support much-needed autism inclusion in the workplace, as autistic adults with college degrees remain the most underemployed group. People outside of the autism community often receive contradictory information about which “awareness” efforts are welcomed, with the mainstream media, parents of autistic children, and adult autistic self-advocates presenting very different perspectives.. The confusion over the language and symbolism reflects the philosophical divide between the medical perspective on autism that has primarily dominated the awareness conversation in the mainstream and the neurodiversity perspective.

We’ve moved from awareness to acceptance, but we cannot be satisfied with anything short of empowerment for every person on the autism spectrum.

As clinicians, teachers, and parents, we must empower people with autism to learn how to best navigate their environments with as much independence as possible so that true inclusion can be achieved and the “autism community” can shift to becoming just “our community.” Empowering the people we support to join their communities can also be the start of a shift away from where we currently stand, with the onus resting with the individual with autism (and their families) to teach their communities about why they should be included and instead start the process of creating communities that demand inclusion because of the inherent value of neurodiversity.. El movimiento de concienciación sobre el autismo se concretó en 1970, cuando abril se consideró el “Mes de la Concienciación sobre el Autismo”, creando un impulso para empujar las necesidades insatisfechas de las personas con autismo y sus familias a la atención pública.. La comunicacióntoma muchas formas: usar gestos o lenguaje corporal para transmitir su punto de vista; usando palabras simples para transmitir un mensaje; utilizando sistemas adaptativos como lenguaje de señas, sistemas de intercambio de imágenes o dispositivos generadores de voz para satisfacer sus deseos y necesidades; o usar un lenguaje complejo en forma de oraciones completas para pedir por ti mismo y expresar pensamientos e ideas.. Aunque a veces lo perdemos de vista, la mayoría de nosotros tenemos la capacidad de ejercer control durante todo el día de manera pequeña y significativa: dónde almorzamos, qué nos ponemos para el trabajo, dónde vivimos, dónde trabajamos, con quién pasamos nuestro tiempo, la lista podría seguir y seguir.. Cuando las personas con autismo pasan la mayor parte de su tiempo en lugares separados, no solo es injusto para la persona excluida sino también para la comunidad en general, porque las personas con autismo tienen dones para compartir y lecciones para enseñarnos a todos.. ” Empoderar a las personas con autismo para que se unan a sus comunidades también puede ser el comienzo de un cambio radical.En el presente la responsabilidad de incluir esta con en el individuo con autismo (y sus familias) para enseñar a sus comunidades.. Estas son algunas de las muchas áreas de la vida diaria que la mayoría de nosotros consideramos menos emocionantes y satisfactorias, pero no estar completamente equipados en estas áreas también puede crear barreras para acceder a algunas de las fuentes más importantes de empoderamiento, como tener la opción de elegir dónde trabajo, dónde vives y con quién pasas el tiempo.. Tags: ASNC , autism , autism acceptance , autism advocacy , autism awareness , autism communication , autism empowerment , autism nc , autism north carolina , autism resources , autism society north carolina , autism society of NC , Autism Society of North Carolina , Autism spectrum , Autism Spectrum Disorder , Autism Spectrum Disorders , autism support , Developmental disability

It is common to dress up in blue on April 2 to show respect for the autistic community. Make it a proper activity this year! Decorate your home with blue

Most new parents spend hours trying to figure out even the little things such as the needs of a child with autism and the last thing on their mind is for you to go up to them and tell them but your child doesnt look autistic at all!. This video highlights how autistic kids are different but how most importantly, why its important to include them in activities and honor their special interests.. World Autism Awareness Day honors autistic people, so engage your child in perceptual activities!. Last World Autism Awareness Week during lockdown, hundreds of amazing supporters came up with new and creative ways to raise awareness and money to help create a society that works for autistic people.. During the month of April, you and your child with autism can help celebrate Autism Awareness Month by doing something special for the educators and therapists involved in your childs life.. Autism Awareness Month takes place each year in April.. April is Autism Awareness Month, and April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.. Most of the people who celebrate Autism Awareness Day or Month are not autistic.. April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to celebrate inclusion and acceptance of those with autism.. Students and staff across all Camelot Therapeutic Day Schools of Illinois kicked off World Autism Month on April 1 by wearing blue to school in recognition of the Light It Up Blue global campaign.. This year, schools will celebrate together following COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines.. Just a few of the issues people have with Autism Speaks:. This year, we are yet to see, which building in Dubai becomes a part of Light It Up Blue.

Themed “Building A More Inclusive World” to commemorate Autism Awareness Month, the all-inclusive conversation hosted by Datin Sri Umayal tackled weaving inclusive mindsets into the fabric of our society.

So, let’s help change attitudes and create a society that works for autistic children and adults, or ‘superpowers’ as I see them.”. Adli added that acceptance and inclusion were far from realities in Malaysia.. You don’t have to be best friends with the differently-abled but at least understand them,” Anne said.. The teachers who made a difference for Erwin were the ones who took the time to know him and understand his abilities.. Moving from awareness to inclusion is essential to creating an accessible world for the autism community.

Videos

1. Celebrate Autism Acceptance Month!
(LittleThings)
2. Ask an Autistic #22 - Why Acceptance? Autism Acceptance Month
(Amythest Schaber)
3. How to Celebrate Autism Acceptance Day (and Month)
(The Rachelistic Channel)
4. World Autism Awareness Week: A message to the public...
(National Autistic Society)
5. World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) - Why do we celebrate Autism Awareness Day?
(8SA - Books, Biographies and Literature Summary)
6. Why Autism Awareness Month shifted to Autism Acceptance Month
(CBS Los Angeles)

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