The autism advocacy movement has actively been advocating for society to understand and embrace autism better. Autism acceptance is an essential step to improving the lives of individuals with autism, their families, and the community in general. We, as a society, still need to work on moving beyond autism awareness and moving toward acting to truly accept people with an autism spectrum disorder.
For almost 50 years, Autism Awareness Month has been celebrated in April. It has certainly contributed to the increase in awareness of autism spectrum disorder among the autism community. However, some organizations have been advocating that a more comprehensive approach to autism awareness should be adopted instead of autism acceptance.
In the United States, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects one out of every 44 children. It is a developmental disability that affects social, communication, and behavioral functioning. The diagnosis of autism has become more common than ever before, partly due to the increased awareness of the condition.
While autism awareness has improved over the years, society still has room for improvement. Getting children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as early as possible is part of autism awareness. In addition to younger children and adults with signs of autism, older children and adults should also be given the opportunity to get a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.
Getting an autism diagnosis allows people with autism to receive interventions that can assist them in improving their quality of life. Social and communication skills can be taught to them. Self-care skills can be taught, and independence can be gained. A person can learn how to use his or her interests and abilities to support their own well-being and learn how to identify their own needs.
Among some, the term “autism awareness” can stigmatize them in certain ways. Autism-related terminology might promote vigilantism and concern, which is not a compassionate way of viewing people with autism. It is important to accept, include, and support people with autism rather than stigmatize them.
We should take action to support those with autism spectrum disorder beyond accepting autism. People with autism should be included in society and in their communities. Schools and workplaces should create an environment that is inclusive of them. It is important for people with autism to be able to enjoy a good quality of life and enjoy the vast opportunities that life has to offer within their capability and potential.
Acceptance of autism calls for action – changing our behavior. We must recognize and include people with autism in our workplaces, schools, and communities on a daily basis. Professionals in a variety of fields need to be trained on how to effectively support people with an autism spectrum disorder.
The care provided by human service providers, including therapists, behavior analysts, and others, should be compassionate and trauma informed. They should work actively to provide services that are in the best interest of the individual with autism. Their field and their services should continue to improve so that people with autism have a better quality of life.
Taking action for autism can also involve advocacy. Advocates or people who will help people with autism navigate life and to receive the accommodations and supports they need to live a good life are important. It is also possible to teach people with autism advocacy skills. The way in which this occurs depends on the individual, but family members and professionals can support this skill set. By expanding clinical approaches, research, and policies to address these issues, we can further support the larger community.
It is imperative that people with autism are treated with dignity and respect. They should be afforded the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Autism acceptance is more than autism awareness. We need to embrace autism by taking action on a personal, community, and societal level. We must acknowledge and support the diversity found on the autism spectrum.
As with all humans, people with autism all have unique characteristics. The signs and symptoms of autism differ from person to person. Some people with autism cannot communicate verbally while others can communicate verbally but require support or have needs in other areas such as making and maintaining friendships or social skills. We should accept and support all people with autism.
To support the autistic community, we should ensure equity and inclusiveness. It is important to listen to and understand people with autism, to value their perspectives, and to work in a collaborative and compassionate manner with them.
There is a positive trend toward autism acceptance, but it shouldn’t stop there. Those with autism should continue to have a high standard of living and be fully accepted and embraced by society in all aspects of their communities. Acceptance of autism is the first step towards improving the lives of people with autism and society as a whole by moving from autism awareness to action.