Autism Awareness Month; The Power of Community
From A Typical and The Good Doctor to Sesame Street, portrayals of autistic people on TV are starting to reflect a more inclusive attitude. Awareness of autism is growing.
Autism Awareness Month is a time to focus on the place people with autism have in the community. It's a time to move from awareness to acceptance and inclusion. Learn more about Autism Awareness Month, its symbols, and how you can take action.
Infinity Symbol for Autism Inclusivity
The infinity symbol is a relatively new symbol for autism. You'll see it in rainbow colors or gold.
The infinity symbol is meant to represent inclusion and acceptance. It emphasizes connection. Unlike images that represent looking for a solution or a cure, the infinity symbol represents a continuous journey.
Meaning of the Rainbow Infinity Symbol
The rainbow infinity symbol originated with neurodiversity advocates.Neurodiversity refersto the different ways people experience the world. The word "neurodivergent" recognizes the fact that everyone's brain develops in its own way.
Autism is one example of a neurodivergent condition. Some characteristics of neurodiversity present challenges in traditional work or educational settings. However, neurodiverse people have strengths that neurotypical people may not have.
The rainbow infinity symbol was used to represent Autistic Pride Day on June 18, 2005. Autistic Pride Day celebrates belonging to the autistic community. The rainbow infinity symbol reflects those ideas of belonging and community.
Meaning of the Gold Infinity Symbol
The gold infinity symbol is also used for autism acceptance. Gold is gaining popularity as a symbol of autism.
The chemical symbol for gold is Au, which comes from the Latin word for gold (aurum). "Au" is also shorthand for autism.
Gold is highly valued. People seek it out. This makes it a positive symbol of autism acceptance.
Autism Awareness Month vs Autism Acceptance Month
April is Autism Awareness Month. The American Autism Society held a National Autistic Children's Week in 1972 to raise public awareness about autism and educate local communities. The week evolved into Autism Awareness Month.
In 2021, the Autism Society of America suggested changing the name to Autism Acceptance Month. This shift in terminology is already evident in many places. Such a revision is important.
Awareness is knowing that someone has autism. It doesn't imply any action around that knowledge, though.
Acceptance means including the autistic person in your activities. It means helping to develop a sense of community with them. It means encouraging inclusivity in employment, living environments, and social settings.
World Autism Awareness Day
This shift is evident at the international level as well. The United Nations officially declared April 2 to be World Autism Awareness Day in 2008.
For the 2023 observance, the UN collaborated with the Institute of Neurodiversity (ION). ION is an organization run by and for neurodivergent people and allies. Although the name of Autism Awareness Day hasn't changed, the focus is on the acceptance, support, and inclusion of people with autism.
The UN also wanted to highlight the contributions that autistic people make in all domains, including in their families, at work, in the arts, in scientific development, and in policymaking.
How to Get Involved in Autism Awareness Month
Autism acceptance isn't limited to a single month. Autism Awareness Month is a good opportunity to focus on it, though. You can take many concrete actions to show your support and openness to people with autism.
Use the Infinity Symbol
Wearing or displaying the infinity symbol is a simple way to show solidarity with the diversity of the autistic community. The rainbow infinity symbol for neurodiversity and the gold symbol specifically for autism are both appropriate.
One of the best ways to reduce stigmas and increase acceptance is to learn the facts about autism. Rumors and incorrect information are everywhere. You can help counter these harmful ideas with accurate and up-to-date data.
If you're neurotypical, reading and listening to neurodivergent people is important.
You can find blogs and other social media pages that support autism acceptance. Follow people with autism on social media to keep learning throughout the year.
You can help amplify these voices by sharing and interacting with their posts. This interaction helps these content creators expand their audience. It encourages them to keep providing resources to the community.
Support Autism-Friendly Businesses
Autistic people have an unemployment rateas high as 40%. You can support autism acceptance in the workplace by supporting businesses that hire people with autism.
Some businesses offer times specifically for neurodivergent people. They may lower the lights or turn off background music. Supporting these efforts encourages companies to continue.
Create or Contribute to a Donation Campaign
Organizing or donating to a campaign to raise money for autism acceptance is a tangible way to show your support. Local organizations often hold walks, runs, or other fundraising events in April. If your community doesn't have such an event, you could organize one.
Social media can be a good way to learn about or promote fundraising campaigns. Be sure to do your research before giving money, though. Some organizations solicit funds but do little to help autistic people.
Be Kind and Open-Minded
Autism acceptance is a process. We're all learning. Kindness and openness are essential.
Everyone has their own journey as an autistic person or an ally. Everyone can support awareness and acceptance in their own way. Inclusivity extends to everyone trying to build that inclusive community!
Simple kindness and a willingness to learn and share can help everyone.
Make Every Day Autism Acceptance Day
Autism Awareness Month will come and go, but the need for acceptance lasts all year. The infinity symbol represents a new emphasis on inclusion. You can support autism acceptance in a variety of ways.
Educating yourself and helping to educate others is one step you can take. Supporting businesses that promote autism acceptance is another positive choice. You can donate to organizations that make a real difference in the lives of autistic people.
Choice MD is your ally for education and resources. We can help you navigate the healthcare system. Our community forum can help you meet, learn, and connect with the local community.
Join the conversationat Choice MD today.