AngelSense Newsletter

It’s Time We Celebrate Autism Awareness Year

 


April can be a trying month for people with autism. It’s a time when some of the biggest monuments “Light It Up Blue” and people are encouraged to walk, donate and just show up in support of autism. April is the time when people stop to raise awareness for a condition that, according to recent estimates, affects 1 in 68 children. And that’s just the problem.


For a condition which is becoming increasingly prevalent, one has to wonder whether a month is enough to help people really understand how autism colors the way you see the world. After all most awareness months simply shine a light on how challenging life is for those with the condition, and do we really need that?


Child with autism covering his ears


Most people are now aware of autism. There’s no need to single out and further stigmatize a disorder which is far too often misunderstood. Instead an awareness month, it’s high time that we teach people to understand and accept what it means to be autistic. And that’s only something we can do if we focus on what it means to have autism throughout the year. 


Forget awareness. It’s time for acceptance


As well-meaning as Autism Awareness Month may be, it misses the point. Autism isn’t a terminal illness that can be cured. It’s something which impacts and colors who you are and how you see the world. For many, autism is an integral part of their identity, and for some even a source of pride. It’s not something people are looking to be cured of. When you understand that, an Autism Awareness Month seems out of place among other awareness months like Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Dental Awareness Month.


The other problem with an awareness month is that it doesn’t translate into anything real. In his TED Talk, Daniel Share-Strom, a 26-year-old writer and speaker with autism made the point that while awareness is commendable what we need to see is more understanding and acceptance. He makes the point that this is the only way to dismantle preconceived ideas and stereotypes about how people with autism experience the world.


What can you really achieve in one month?


It takes more than a month to bring about real change. To raise awareness and help people understand what life with autism is like, you need to focus on this throughout the year. This is the only way to change people’s perceptions and promote acceptance. After all the only way people will accept someone who is different is if they understand them and how they see the world. And let’s face it, that’s not something that can be achieved in a month.


Autism Awareness ribbon


But it’s more than that. Devoting one month to showcasing the difficulties and daily challenges someone with autism faces, sends the wrong message to those with autism and the rest of the world. As one autistic writer explains: “It’s stressful being told the world would be better off without you everywhere you go for a month.”


Let’s get proactive about autism acceptance


Instead of an Autism Awareness Month, there are some organizations which suggest that April should be Autism Acceptance Month. This is a refreshing and insightful take on Autism Awareness Month which places an emphasis on celebrating people with autism and the contribution they make to society. During Autism Acceptance Month, people are encouraged to share positive and respectful stories about those with the condition.


Autism Acceptance Month reminds us that people with autism are people just like you and me. Such an acceptance month helps spread tolerance and empathy. It’s also just one of the many alternatives to Autism Awareness Month. Here are a few other ideas for things you can do to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about autism during Autism Awareness Month:


1. Join the conversation


If you’re looking to spread the word about autism, have a look at some of the inspiring stories being shared on Twitter using the hashtags #AutismAcceptanceMonth and #redinstead.


2. Wear Red Instead


The Wear Red Instead campaign was launched to challenge Autism Speaks’ Light it Up Blue Campaign. The aim is to encourage people to wear red during April to show their acceptance of people with autism. You can follow the campaign on Twitter.


3. Join the International Autism Acceptance Decade Event


This event aims to promote the acceptance of people with autism, and claims that Autism Awareness Month does nothing more than encourage people to be tolerant. It aims to promote autism in a positive light and to teach people to be understanding of the condition.


4. Get involved with the Autism Self Advocacy Network


The Autism Self Advocacy Network  works to empower those with autism and fights to ensure they enjoy the same rights and privileges as other members of society. The organization aims to give people with autism the tools they need to live fully independent lives. You can volunteer or join one of the Autism Self Advocacy Network’s chapters.


Whether or not you choose to celebrate Autism Awareness Month, it’s worth reflecting on what you can do to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about autism. If we all play a role in spreading positive and accurate information about the condition perhaps there won’t be a need for an Autism Awarness Month or even an Autism Acceptance Month in years to come.




AngelSense is committed to creating a safer world for children with special needs. We designed the AngelSense GPS tracking solution to give parents the peace of mind that their child is safe at all times.


AngelSense is committed to creating a safer world for those with special needs and providing peace of mind to their families.

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2 Comments

  1. Samantha April 4, 2017 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    I am an autism mom. Each year we keep a blue lightbulb in our porch light for autism awareness. Should it be red? Thank you

    • Sidra @ AngelSense April 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Samantha – it’s great that you do that! There is a growing movement to switch to red so maybe by next year everyone will have #redinstead

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