April 5, 2023
Source: Autism Society of America
This April is Autism Acceptance Month, and the Autism Society of America will highlight the real impacts of acceptance in action, from interpersonal interactions to national policy choices.
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, with one in 36 children receiving a diagnosis, according to today’s newly released report from the Centers for Disease Control. In addition to the 5.8 million Autistic adults, this prevalence means that Autism likely touches a vast majority of Americans either through relationships or direct experience, and the support needs across the Autism spectrum are vastly different. During Autism Acceptance Month, the Autism Society is highlighting the diversity of experiences and needs with a reminder that acceptance happens every day.
“Autism Acceptance Month is a great reminder that we can and should see the individual, not a diagnosis, and work together to advocate for the unique services and supports that help each person live fully,” said Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “It’s critical that we all do our part. At the Autism Society, we are working at local and national levels to ensure that everyone in the Autism community is connected to the resources they need, when they need them.”
In the coming year, the Autism Society plans to expand its Vaccine Education Initiative (VEI) to increase healthcare provider training, accessible vaccine clinics, and more equitable supports; deliver increased first responder trainings with tools and information to serve the Autistic community more safely and effectively for life-saving outcomes; increase employment rates for Autistic adults and advocate for fair wages and working conditions; and deepen the organizational focus on health equity to build a robust system of supports, services and resources aimed at the whole living experience – from health care options that fit the unique needs of an individual, to addressing the 820,000-person waitlist for home and community-based services through Medicaid across the country.
Annually, the Autism Society has:
- Provided direct supports for 334,000 people.
- Informed 1.2 million individuals looking for information and resources on the organization’s website.
- Hosted 58,000 people who attended educational events across the country.
- Taught 2,300 individuals about water safety and wandering.
- Trained 7,500 first responders on safe and effective interactions with the Autism community.
- Supported 34,000 people who attended support groups including Autistic individuals, parents, and caregivers.
- Coordinated over 3,700 letters to members of Congress through the Autism Society’s Action Center.
- Successfully advocated for critical bills to increase funding and/or supports within the omnibus appropriations bill, ABLE Age Adjustment Act, Money Follows the Person, Kevin & Avonte’s Law, and Assistive Technology Act, among others.
This Autism Acceptance Month, the Autism Society will also be unveiling a new collection of portraits across the country; stories from participants highlight their unique strengths, challenges, hopes, and dreams in an effort to expand visibility and representation as a centerpiece of the Autism Society’s campaign.
“I struggle a lot with controlling my body, especially if I’m a little bit nervous or even excited,” said Evan, an Autistic photoshoot participant. “The photoshoot was a great example. You were all so welcoming and kind. I could feel your acceptance and understanding in your eyes and your smiles. Thank you. Among Autistics, the non-speaking population is one of the most marginalized. The outsides don’t match the insides. We are in here. We are worthy.”
The organization hosted the photoshoot in early 2023 to capture Autistic individuals with high support needs, specifically, those who use alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) tools, may also have intellectual and/or additional disabilities, and require additional levels of care. Using trained photographers in a calm sensory space, with additional accommodations to create a space welcoming for Autistic participants, the Autism Society delivered an experience that demonstrates acceptance in action.
Throughout the month of April, the Autism Society will highlight more about these specific initiatives and stories that aim to demonstrate acceptance in action. The Autism Society is encouraging everyone to connect and participate in the #CelebrateDifferences campaign to learn more, share information and personal stories, and join the movement to practice acceptance every day.