April has been widely recognized as “Autism Awareness Month.” However, we believe our community deserves more than awareness. Autism Society of America has been working with all of its local affiliates, including Autism Society - The Heartland, and other national organizations connected to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), to federally change "Awareness" to "Acceptance." Words matter. We collectively recognize and advocate for acceptance, rather than mere awareness, and wholeheartedly embrace April as “Autism Acceptance Month (AAM)”.
What is Autism Acceptance Month?
Autism Society of America originally recognized April as “Autism Awareness Month” in the 1970s. The purpose of this month is to promote awareness about the families and individuals affected by ASD, but more important, it is about acceptance within our society. Research from the CDC indicates that about 1 in 54 children have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Given the increasing prevalence, it becomes more important than ever to advocate for more equitable services and inclusion for our ASD communities.
Why is acceptance important?
Words matter. When April was first known as “Autism Awareness Month,” there was little known about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and there were fewer diagnoses. Luckily, through positive outreach efforts, we have achieved a strong awareness of ASD. Now we must formally shift our words and pursuits from awareness to acceptance. Acceptance promotes more equitable employment opportunities, educational opportunities, accessible health care, accessible housing, and a multitude of other accessible supports and services for those living on the spectrum.
To further promote acceptance, Autism Society of America and Autism Society - The Heartland are also promoting the #CelebrateDifferences campaign on social media. We believe that celebrating differences promotes acceptance of the entire spectrum of personalities and encourages those with autism to showcase pride in their abilities.
Still curious about Autism Acceptance Month? Autism Society of America and Autism Society - The Heartland have a host of informational print and web-based materials. You can find those materials and more information about the month and the movement here.
Autism Society - The Heartland is the local affiliate of Autism Society of America that serves families in Kansas and Missouri. Our mission is to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We provide a wide range of services that include: support groups, social groups, information and referral, grants and scholarships, COVID-19 Relief Fund, educational workshops, and sensory-friendly events. You can find more information here.
To search for additional support groups and resources near you, search here.