April is an important time of the year for Autistic people. It’s when others learn about what Autism is and how they can support their Autistic friends and loved ones.
But it's not always easy for those with Autism. Much of "Autism Awareness" has been focused around feeling bad for Autistic people and their families. People start talking about cures and post "inspirational" stories that don't show the whole story. So much is about making non-Autistic people feel comfortable. It's not a narrative by Autistic people.
Should you call it Autism Awareness or Acceptance?
People are aware of Autism. But do they accept it for everything it is?
That's why many Autistic people think Autism Awareness Month should be changed to Autism Acceptance Month.
But are people actually aware? Sure, everyone knows that Autism is a thing. But there's a lot of misunderstanding around what it means to be Autistic — that Autism is a spectrum with ranging support needs. Awareness helps people understand Autism. It helps get rid of negative stereotypes. And it helps get people diagnosed much earlier so they can get the support they need. It also makes more people think about Autism, which hopefully leads to more Autistic allies and advocates.
And that is the first true step in Autism Acceptance. Education and understanding are a necessity to accept people with Autism as they are, celebrate their differences, and create a world where Autistic people can feel safe and supported.
Awareness and Acceptance must work together. We quite literally cannot have one without the other.
Autism Acceptance isn’t the opposite of awareness. It’s just the next step!
Acceptance is about making the world a better place for Autistic people by celebrating — not just understanding — who they are and how they think.
It’s about creating an accessible world, building support networks, and welcoming Autistic perspectives to the table.
This might include making sure people have access to quiet, safe places at work or school, giving anyone access to a communication device, and inviting actual Autistic people to lead the conversations.
Because Autism is not a problem that needs fixing. Autistic people deserve to be respected for who they are. They think differently about the world, and that difference is valuable.
A common goal
No matter what you call this month, our goal is the same: to create a world where Autistic people don't feel like they need to "change" or "act normal" to fit in: a world where everyone belongs.
This month should serve as a reminder of how important it is to recognize and accept the unique experiences of Autistic people.
If we embrace both awareness and acceptance, we can celebrate Autistic perspectives, create accessible environments, and recognize the strengths and abilities of the Autistic community.
We can have a more inclusive world — one where everyone belongs.
And that is worth celebrating.