Last year, the Autism Society of America formally announced the decision to shift April’s Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month, in an effort to ignite broader change in the lives of those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families.
The initiative was first introduced in 1972 by the Autism Society with its Annual National Autistic Children’s Week with the goal of encouraging educational, philanthropic, and health professionals to collectively align their research efforts toward finding a cure for the disorder.
1 in 44 children have autism spectrum disorder in the United States – a significant increase from the 1 in 150 statistic reported in 2000. What was once seen as a rare neurodevelopmental condition now has a much higher prevalence. Fifty years since its initial autism campaign, researchers now know more than ever. Namely, that autism is a life-long condition that cannot be cured, but can be treated with individualized, intensive behavioral care.
Empowering the Autism Perspective
What once started out as an awareness campaign rooted in children’s autism awareness has now diversified into a wider movement aimed at igniting change. Today, the autism acceptance movement has aims to of fully integrating individuals with autism into society, ensuring they have access to resources and opportunities to build a successful life.
Autism Acceptance Month’s new messaging uploads individuals with autism as the experts of their condition, empowering those with ASD to share their stories, challenges, and unique perspectives.
Regardless of semantics, there has never been a formal designation of April to honor the autism community. Part of the evolved shift in messaging is to push for the federal government to officially designate April as “Autism Acceptance Month.” Aside from nationally recognizing the month in regards to ASD, advocates hope this shift will promote more inclusive government resources such as accessible housing and job placement, among other disability services.
The shift in sentiment further aims to spark change through understanding, support, and opportunities for those with autism spectrum disorder. Advocates are pushing to fully integrate individuals with autism into society and drive legislators and community leaders to ensure inclusive spaces throughout education, employment, and health care.
Furthering Autism Acceptance
Within the workplace, autism-inclusion support is still much needed, as college-educated individuals with ASD still remain the most underemployed group. Collaborating with businesses to advocate for employing people on the spectrum is pivotal for ensuring inclusive hiring practices, job placement, and financial stability for the ASD community. Organizations can further support the individuals with autism by creating inclusive spaces and normalizing neuro-diverse voices in the workplace and their communities at large.
Celebrating Autism Acceptance Month assists with shifting societal views toward empowerment, as well as amplifying the voices and vibrancy of the autism community. Centering on the ASD experience also marks true partnership, and normalizing these neuro-diverse individuals initiates inclusive spaces for them to thrive.
The Maxim Advantage
As more people are diagnosed with the autism nationwide, Maxim is dedicated to serving these individuals and their families. Maxim currently provides ABA services in 15 markets and is on track to expand to 27 markets in seven states by the end of 2022. A new and expanded leadership team is guiding the more than 170 team members at Maxim who work in this business line serving over 1300 patients.
For more information on Maxim’s behavioral services, visit our Autism Care page here.