Seeking More Than Awareness, Promoting Autism Acceptance
April has widely been known as “Autism Awareness Month,” but increasingly there have been calls from advocates to change the name to “Autism Acceptance Month” to better empower people with autism, foster change, and promote inclusivity. While this shift in language may seem minor, it is a huge step forward for the autism community.
For far too long, perceptions in popular media have portrayed autism as something to fear or that must be eradicated. While representation for people with autism has become more common over the years, it is still rare for messaging surrounding autism to focus on full acceptance and combating misbeliefs. In fact, acceptance is one of the biggest barriers the autism community faces.
People with autism experience many of the same issues that are present in other communities across America, however, they may be more negatively impacted due to a lack of acceptance. For example, recent studies have shown that the autism community faces a higher level of unemployment and underemployment and this problem has likely become even more pronounced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, neuro-diverse people may also face higher COVID-19 risks yet were not immediately prioritized during vaccine rollout. This underrepresentation and exclusion for the autism community exemplifies the discrimination that people with autism face in our nation, in large part due to a lack of acceptance.
We must develop pathways of inclusion for the autism community and ensure that they have the resources and support necessary to be fully integrated into our social fabric. Acceptance takes us one step closer to making these goals a reality.
The words we use matter as we strive to support the full inclusion of people with autism into all areas of life. Using the term acceptance signifies a celebration of our differences, support for the autism community, and alludes to the actions that are necessary to allowing people with autism to live full lives. The language we use this April presents an opportunity for us all to change the messaging around autism into something more positive, and that recognizes the changes our society must make to fully embrace our autism community.
Mercy Home has long been fighting for true acceptance or the people we support. We must continue to spread awareness, but to be frank awareness of autism simply is not enough. We encourage you to join us in celebrating Autism Acceptance Month and advocating for all people with autism.
To learn how Mercy Home supports children with autism, please click here.