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 April, the Autism Society of America is inviting its partners, supporters and world-wide community to be the connection this Autism Acceptance Month. Autism Acceptance Month kicks off on April 1, and the Autism Society is recognizing the multitude of experiences within the Autism community to highlight the critical need for acceptance, inclusion and connections to support people with Autism across the lifespan.
Autism diagnoses are growing, both for children and adults. Last December, the CDC announced that one in 44 children are diagnosed with Autism. Over 7 million people in the United States are on the Autism spectrum. Furthermore, Autism affects people from all racial, ethnic and socio-economic standings. The increased Autism prevalence rate stresses the urgent need for equitable access to diagnostic evaluations, and early interventions that have a significant impact on lifelong outcomes. Read their stories on social media through the #CelebrateDifferences hashtag.
“Autism Acceptance Month is an opportunity to advocate and practice acceptance for the Autism community through inclusion, support and connection.” said Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “No matter who you are, where you live, or your abilities, you should be able to have the connection to supports, services, community and resources needed to live fully.”
In an effort to increase inclusion and acceptance for Autistic individuals in public life, The Autism Society of America has nationwide initiatives and advocacy in key areas, including:
First Responder Training
COVID-19 Impacts and Response
- Approximately 1 in 5 young adults with Autism will interact with a police officer before the age of 21. Individuals with disabilities, including those with Autism, are five times more likely to be incarcerated than people without disabilities. Additionally, police interactions lead to more injuries and fatalities within this vulnerable population, largely due to lack of training and the improper use of excessive force.
- To adequately prepare all emergency personnel to engage with neurodivergent individuals for safer and more peaceful outcomes, the Autism Society is working to create a top-quality first responder and criminal justice curriculum and training program that can be utilized across the U.S.
- People with intellectual disabilities are almost six times more likely to die from COVID-19. Unvaccinated people are 10 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19, 17 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 20 times more likely to die. That is why the CDC recommends that everyone ages 12 and up get a booster vaccine.
- The Autism Society has launched a Vaccine Education Initiative (VEI) aimed at sharing critical vaccination information to best prevent the worst symptoms of this illness, particularly for those more likely to experience severe symptoms. Through the VEI, the Autism Society is committed to creating long-lasting partnerships that increase health access and promote health equity nationwide.
Acceptance and inclusion are critical to ensuring everyone in the Autism community can access what they need to live to their fullest extent possible. This is vital to improving opportunities in inclusive education, employment, housing, health care, and long-term services and supports for individuals with Autism, no matter where they are in life’s journey.
- Up to 85% of Autistic adults with a college education are unemployed, and over 70% of adults with Autism are underemployed or unemployed. Given the current labor shortage, employers could benefit from expanding their pool of applicants through inclusive hiring practices. Autistic and neurodiverse individuals bring significant skills that can be harnessed when supported through inclusion and accommodations as needed.
- The Autism Society partners with businesses to offer learning opportunities, resources and connections to the wide network of Autistic individuals in the workforce to support inclusive workplace missions.