Awareness to Acceptance
Since 2007, April has been designated “Autism Awareness Month.” This has been a time to empower individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, as well as help others understand this diagnosis. Currently, autism affects approximately 1 in 54 children. This has been a dramatic increase over the last two decades. So, acceptance is more important now more than ever. Moving from awareness to acceptance involves moving past those surface impressions you made about someone with this diagnosis. It means true integration or inclusion of these individuals into society and reduces the stigma. Acceptance supports improving the opportunities for individuals with ASD in areas such as education, housing, and career opportunities.
For individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, they have likely experienced uncomfortable interactions with family members, friends, teachers, or complete strangers due to the stigma of ASD. Stigma can be extremely isolating and invalidating. Many individuals with autism feel as though they must hide or mask who they are. The stigma of autism spectrum disorder has origins in misinformation and/or a general lack of knowledge about the diagnosis. This can often stem from the media and poor or singular depictions of these individuals in movies or television shows. There are also historical myths that continue to persist.
Common Myths of ASD
- Everyone with autism is either nonverbal or a savant.
- Individuals with autism are incapable of forming relationships.
- Individuals with autism do not want to communicate.
- Individuals with autism lack feelings.
- Autism is a result of bad parenting.
- Vaccines cause autism.
How to Learn More
- The Asperger/Autism Network – www.aane.org
- The Autism Society of America – www.autism-society.org
- Autism Speaks – www.autismspeaks.org
- Social Thinking – www.socialthinking.com
Sesame Street has focused their efforts on helping children with autism spectrum disorder adapt in this everchanging world. Find more videos and resources of Sesame Street’s efforts during Autism Acceptance Month.
Children’s Museum of NH -Exploring Our Way Autism Program
Exploring Our Way sessions are held on the first Sunday of each month during the school year from 10 am – noon. At each session, the museum offers free admission to families raising children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The IOD promotes full access, equal opportunities, and participation for all persons by strengthening communities and advancing policy and systems change, promising practices, education, and research.
The NHFV Autism Connection offers information and resources to families raising children and youth experiencing ASD/NDD and the professionals that serve them.