Why It Should Be Autistic “Acceptance” Month Instead of Awareness


Elle Love

The shift from “Autism Awareness Month” to “Autism Acceptance Month” is significant this April. Photo courtesy of IStock.

We celebrate National Autism Awareness in the month of April with World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 to educate and create awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder. As thankful as I am that this month can give Autistic people like me an opportunity to start a conversation about neurodiversity to create awareness, I feel already “aware” about it.

In 2020, 222 per 10,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder, which includes a variety of disorders that can be associated with as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Asperger’s,  and other learning or intellectual disabilities, according to a Statista report

With enough research and awareness, we have currently, I think it will be ideal to expand Autism Awareness Month into a month that not only continue to share awareness of Autism but to also celebrate the differences that we contribute to society.

If you take the phrase “April is Autism _____ Month”, how would you fill in the blank? In a general sense, many individuals, and organizations like Autism Society of American would say Autism Acceptance Month would be the more acceptable change

In 1970, Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to bring awareness to ASD, promote acceptance, and create changes that can bring the highest quality of life for many people on the spectrum. Two years later, the same organization launched their first annual National Autistic Children’s Week which evolved into Autistic Awareness Month.

With more research expanding into defining Autism in the 1970s including the disorder being included in the definition of developmental disabilities to be eligible to treatment and to provide protection of the for people with disabilities, it continued to expand the characterization of Autism in the 1990s including the development of the Autism Society of America Foundation focused on autism research, the creation of Individualized Education Programs in public schools, the creation of the Autism Research Registry, and the debut of the renowned Autism puzzle ribbon to promote international autism awareness.

Currently, the Autism Society is creating a new campaign, shifting from “Autism Awareness Month” to “Autism Acceptance Month” for an autonomous continuum of awareness and increase need of acceptance to create a bigger support system for Autistic people.

“While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life,” says Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America in a press release. “As many individuals and families affected by autism know, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system.”

As an individual who grew up with ASD, I want to use my platform to educate through my experiences. Although, every Autistic individuals experiences are different, it gives a window to create awareness while we encourage our society to create support systems that cann heighten our quality of life.

Creating awareness was the first step in our conversation about disability inclusion, however, acceptance enforces awareness and reflect how our society should celebrate the differences and abilities that neurodivergent people have.