Light It Up BlueMar 30, 2022 ● By The Hood Magazine
Sponsored by: Behavior Care Specialist
Historically, April is known as Autism Awareness month. It is a month dedicated to spreading education to the community, acknowledge the diagnosis, and advocate for those who have autism. As the world continues to evolve and the autism community shares their experience, so do the ideologies around autism support. Instead of dedicating April to Autism Awareness, it is now being recognized as Autism ACCEPTANCE. April how now evolved into focusing on creating inclusive opportunities, allowing those individuals to live their best life. Let’s learn how you can support the movement!
Creating an inclusive environment starts with reading blogs written by people with autism and their families. Hearing directly from those who experience autism daily can help develop an understanding right from the source. Another way to learn more about inclusion is talking to your friends or coworkers who might have family or know someone with autism. They may be able to share experiences that do not meet society ‘norms’. For example, sometimes individuals with autism stim, which might look like flapping their hands or rocking back and forth. Seeing a person with autism stim might feel uncomfortable to you until you understand that this a strategy an autistic person might do to regulate their body, much like taking a deep breath or going for a walk helps me regulate mine. After doing some research, you might also learn that people with autism are all different, just like all people are different. There are so many unique experiences to each person who is effected by autism. Feeling educated about autism will you give you that confidence to be an ally and ensure you are being inclusive.
Another way to start working towards an inclusive community is to help educate others and your children. Oftentimes, parents, caregivers, and those with autism are accessing a variety of therapies, teaching and learning new skills, and just living with autism in general. Help minimize their stresses by explaining autism to those around you. Educate your children on what autism is and teach them how to be an ally. When you invite the whole class to a birthday party, don’t forget about the kids who might not be in the class all day, and let their parents know they are wanted there. If you own a business, ensure you are employing people with disabilities.
Awareness is the easy part. Awareness is sharing posts on Facebook and wearing the right color on the right day. Acceptance and inclusion take work. A more inclusive community means there is less bullying for all children. It means more relationships with other kids or parents. It means more ideas and new interests. Inclusion does not just open the world to those with a disability. It opens the world to all of us.
*Note – April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. Historically this day has been known as “light it up blue”. This year if you want to show support and solidarity of individuals on the spectrum, wear red instead. Read more on the #RedInstead movement at www.learnfromautistics.com/wear-redinstead-on-autism-acceptance-day
Kaylyn Weber, MS, LBA/BCBA