Skip to content
Sponsored Content

How to participate in Autism Acceptance Month

Christiana Goetz, M.A., Clinical Psychology Doctoral Intern is helping people understand what Autism is.
Christiana Goetz
Christiana Goetz, M.A., Clinical Psychology Doctoral Intern.

Christiana Goetz, M.A., Clinical Psychology Doctoral Intern

As the end of April nears, we reflect on the month of Autism awareness, and beyond that, acceptance. Previously entitled Autism Awareness Month, Autism advocacy groups have called for the name to change to Autism Acceptance Month. Acceptance includes voices of those in the Autistic community rather than other people speaking for them.

Acceptance starts with understanding what Autism is. Here are some facts about Autism:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with challenges in both social communication and restricted, repetitive behaviours. It is a spectrum, meaning a characteristic of Autism in a four-year-old male might look different in a 27-year-old female.

Social communication challenges can include struggles with social chit-chat, language delays, or an overly formal way of speaking. An Autistic person might have issues with eye contact or emotional expression. They might want friends and have difficulty maintaining relationships or they might have no interest in others and be perfectly content spending time alone.

Repetitive behaviours demonstrated in Autistic individuals might include physical movements, such as flapping hands or rocking back and forth for self-stimulation (stimming). Insistence on routines can be repetitive and restricted beyond the typical flexible schedule. Restricted behaviours can be also seen in highly specific or abnormal interests, such as time-consuming or single-minded knowledge of a certain television show or animal species. Also, Autism can include sensory processing issues, such as having strong reactions to loud noises or bright lights, or sensitivity to certain textures.

So, how can we shift toward more inclusion and affirmation this Autism Acceptance Month?

  • Remember that Autism is a spectrum and that it can present differently across gender, age, intelligence, language ability, etc. As such, do not compare one Autistic person to another.
  • Be respectful if someone tells you they have Autism or are Autistic.
  • Identity-first language (e.g., “I am not a person with Autism, I am Autistic”) is often preferred in the Autism community.
  • Be inclusive of Autistic children, teens, and adults. Full inclusion involves integration (rather than separation) and accommodating the unique needs of Autistic people at school, work, etc. Ask the person directly about these needs rather than assume or guess.
  • Support local initiatives and events put on by Autism Ontario in Thunder Bay and the Autism community.

These simple steps can go a long way in fostering an inclusive community.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks