April is Autism Awareness Month. Since 2021, The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has made April Autism Acceptance Month by stating that acceptance of autism as a natural condition in the human experience is necessary for real dialogue to occur. During this month, it isn’t just important to spread awareness for people who have autism. We should also be accepting of those who are autistic in our local communities. For those who may not know, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. According to the CDC, people who ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most people.
Acceptance is something everyone strives for. We are constantly divided by our society. Often, we point out differences. The advancement of technology makes face-to-face communication harder. Either we envy someone “better” or judge someone who looks different.
Many of us have experienced a situation where someone did not want to play with us. An individual who does not feel accepted can become lonely and depressed as a result. Up to 70% of autistic people experience mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. According to Jaynolan.org, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system. Autism acceptance can be defined as an individual feeling accepted or appreciated as an autistic person. Acceptance is essential to helping those with autism lead fulfilled and satisfying lives.
People with autism may find it difficult to understand and respond to the world around them and may have difficulty engaging in social situations. We need to understand that each person on the autism spectrum is unique and has different ways of expressing themselves and interacting with the world. From TheBump.com, it’s not easy to be autistic in a predominately non-autistic world, and making the social world a bit more accommodating and welcoming to autistic differences could go a long way toward improving personal and professional outcomes for autistic people.
We shouldn’t need to teach kindness. It should be in our nature to do kind things for others. This includes anyone with a disability, as they cannot change who they are. Everyone has a right to be valued and appreciated in our society. If we do not look past our differences, we will always remain divided in this society. Fortunately, society has a greater awareness of autism than ever before. Recognize people with autism in your community. They have many strengths and overcome challenges just like anyone else. It would be nice if they knew that they have a friend on their side.
Spreading awareness starts with you. By raising awareness about autism, we are helping an important part of our community and their acceptance in our society. Here are a few ways to spread autism awareness.
First, take action by getting informed. Misunderstanding the behavior of someone with autism can lead to very difficult situations and reinforce negative perceptions. With the information you have gathered, spread the word and educate people about the condition. By educating, we can reduce the stigma of autism and create a more supportive and respectful environment.
Second, use social media positively. You can raise awareness by sharing accurate information and articles. If you have a loved one who is autistic, you can share your personal story to help others understand what it’s like to live with autism. This can inspire and motivate others to have compassion for individuals with autism.
Third, encourage and include people with ASD. This goes back to acceptance not only in our society but in our local communities. We all have everyday activities and those with autism should feel as though they too can engage with everyone. It’s a common misconception that people with autism don’t want to make friends. Along with including people with autism, attend events that support them. There are many organizations that host fundraisers or even walks. This is a good way to show your support and raise awareness in your community. For example, you can sign up for an Autism Speaks Walk, which is held throughout the year worldwide.
Lastly, you can always donate. According to the At The Autism Site, they suggest finding your local autism organization and help make a difference. You can make a monetary donation, a donation of your time and efforts, or a donation of goods that might be needed. Donating shows your support. There are great organizations, charities, networks, and groups that support people with autism. You can start from there, and maybe work your way up becoming a strong advocate for autism awareness all year long!