Autism Understanding Not Awareness: Let's Make April "Autism Acceptance Month" by Renee Herren
When a person thinks of a National Awareness Month, usually a specific color, symbol and organization comes to mind. As a special education teacher, I always believed I was well versed in all things “special.”
Last year I began a journey of learning more about autism for reasons that had nothing to do with my profession. As I researched, I quickly learned that I knew very little. Here are five things that I discovered and hope you will consider when deciding how to support the autistic community:
- Many autistic people do not look forward to the month of April.
- Many autistic communities do not support the big name organization that promotes "awareness" by using a specific color, ribbon and symbol.
- Most autistic people prefer identity-first language. This means they prefer to be called “autistics,” “aspie” or “autistic people" as opposed to “person with autism.” But, every individual’s preference should be respected. [img]
- There are blogs, websites, organizations and informational resources out there produced and managed by autistics. Seek these websites out, like LearnFromAutistics.com.
- Autistic people need the help of neurotypical people. We can all help spread not only awareness but understanding and acceptance by sharing articles written by autistic people like Chris Bonello and supporting autistic organizations that directly help the autistic community like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE).
Looking for more information? Check out this great list of resources from Chris Bonello at AutisticWeird.com.
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