By David Swift
This year, I have seen a new change in terms of what is called for in April with autism. Is it autism awareness month? Or is it autism acceptance month now? Is it autism awareness week? Autism acceptance week? Is there just one “World Autism Day”? Well, I think I can make it easy while making everyone happy.
To start, I’d like to address the claims that we need to “move past autism awareness,” or that autism awareness “isn’t good enough,” claims like that. Let me ask, how can we expect anyone to accept autism if they aren’t aware of it? We can’t. Awareness and acceptance go hand in hand, and you can’t have one without the other.
Some will say that mostly everyone is aware of autism now. Are they? Autism awareness means a lot more than simply having heard the term “autism,” It means nothing if people just hear the word, that does nothing for us. What’s important is that they are aware of what autism truly is; that they are aware of how it affects us. Autism is very complex, and what is known about autism is constantly evolving. Some things we “knew” 10-15 years ago are now considered absurd, or even offensive to some. Is society aware of that? No. Not at all.
Given all of this, I would say autism awareness is equally as important as autism acceptance, and we should always keep our calls strong for autism awareness. Autism acceptance will naturally fall into place with autism awareness. The more autism awareness we have, true autism awareness, the more acceptance there will be of autism. I mean, what person who is truly aware of autism is not going to accept it? If they don’t accept it, or don’t believe in autism (yes there are people like that), then they aren’t truly aware of autism.
With all that said, I have a couple solutions that should make everyone happy. I think most can agree that one day isn’t enough. Since the community can’t seem to agree on awareness vs. acceptance, why not both? “Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month.” That would be the most simple and easy, but I think we should take it just one step further.
I think we should have April be “Autism Month,” with each of the 4 weeks having a different theme. The first week, it would be “Autism Awareness Week.” 2nd week would be “Autism Acceptance Week.” The 3rd week would be “Autism Appreciation Week.” What would your idea be for the 4th week of Autism month?
David Swift Is an enthusiastic autistic self-advocate. He is passionate about helping people on the autism spectrum by educating the general public on everything autism related. He is part of the Autism Community Store’s Inclusion Team."