April has been designated as “Autism Awareness Month” in the U.S. for nearly 50 years. But instead of just promoting awareness of the complex, lifelong developmental disability, advocates with the Autism Society of America (ASA) are now pushing for a change in the month’s name, turning it into a month focused on acceptance rather than just awareness.
Michelle Diament of Disability Scoop has reported that leaders within the national autism organization are “spearheading an effort calling on local, state and federal leaders across the nation to name April ‘Autism Acceptance Month.’”
In addition to public support, the group is also hoping to garner support for the initiative from corporations, Congress and even the White House.
In letters sent to U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey (the chairs of each body’s autism caucus), the ASA wrote: “This year the autism community is formally shifting references of ‘Autism Awareness Month’ to ‘Autism Acceptance Month.’ Our aim is to have President Biden issue a proclamation stating April as ‘Autism Acceptance Month,’ embracing the inclusive goals of the community and aligning with the consistent language autism organizations and individual advocates have been using for years.”
According to Diament, “The Autism Society notes that advocates have been using the term “acceptance” over “awareness” for some time, but the government has been slow to adjust. Other groups including Easter Seals and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities are [also] supporting the effort.”
In an interview with Diament, Christopher Banks, president and CEO of the Autism Society, said, “It’s not enough to know that someone has autism; we need to accept and push for inclusion so that individuals can fully participate in our social fabric.”
For more on ‘Autism Acceptance Month’ or for additional resources on Autism spectrum disorder, visit the Autism Society.