A major theme of this book is that just about everything concerning autism is subject to argument. There is not even any consensus on what one should call people who have autism and other disabilities. “In the autism community, many self-advocates and their allies prefer terms such as `Autistic,’ `Autistic person,’ or `Autistic individual’ because we understand autism as an inherent part of an individual’s identity,” writes blogger Lydia Brown.[i] Other writers prefer “people-first” language (e.g., “persons with autism”) since it puts the persons ahead of the disability and describes what they have, not who they are.[ii] For the sake of stylistic variety, this book uses both kinds of language, even though this approach will satisfy neither side. I can only say that I mean no offense.
This year, the Autism Society of America is working with partner organizations to advocate for a formal designation to make April Autism Acceptance Month, putting into words the value of inclusive policies, practices and support services for those affected by autism.
A formal designation to make April Autism Acceptance Month in the United States is a stake in the ground. It says, ‘we will commit to a national effort to ensure individuals with autism are integrated into our social, political and economic fabric.’
Autism rights is a human rights issue. The federal designation makes clear that the citizens of the United States of America who are members of the autism community are entitled to the same rights and benefits as anyone else in our country.
Autism community advocates across the country have a long-standing history of using the term “acceptance” as a means of more fully integrating those 1 in every 54 Americans living with autism into our social fabric. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has been framing April as Autism Acceptance Month since 2011, stating “Acceptance of autism as a natural condition in the human experience is necessary for real dialogue to occur.”
Other groups that have been using ‘acceptance’ through the month of April include the Administration for Community Living, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autistic Women and Non-Binary Network, Easter Seals, First Place AZ, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), and The Arc.