Did you know that, every April, we recognize National Autism Acceptance Month? In the past decade, the prevalence of autism has more than doubled among children in the United States, from 1 in 125 children receiving a diagnosis in 2010 to 1 in 59 children receiving a diagnosis in 2020, according to the Autism Society. The organization’s mission during National Autism Acceptance Month is to spread understanding of autism and encourage people throughout the United States to reach out to loved ones with autism, participate with them, and create more opportunities.
In the past, the Autism Society celebrated National Autism Awareness Month. Now, it is known as National Autism Acceptance Month. The reason for the shift is based not just in words, but in the idea of what it means to truly accept people with different abilities in our society, rather than just acknowledge that they are here. People with autism often face difficulty, starting when they are children, when many public schools struggle to provide the appropriate support services necessary to both integrate autistic children in regular classrooms and provide extra, separate help. Issues may continue into adulthood, when autistic people may have greater challenges in finding gainful employment, accessible housing, or affordable health care. Accepting autism can mean helping to change these structural issues and make the world a more welcoming place for autistic children and adults alike.
There are many ways to be active during National Autism Acceptance Month. The Autism Society can provide assistance with creating educational programming for schoolchildren to learn more about autism. Since many autism efforts already focus on school-aged children, learning more about opportunities for higher education and employment for autistic adults and finding ways to create these opportunities in your community is a great way to get involved.
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