April is Autism Acceptance Month. This celebration serves to show support and acceptance to those living with autism. An estimated 7.5% of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy are also diagnosed with autism. Learn more about how you can show your support for the autistic community this April.
What Is Autism Acceptance Month?
Autism Acceptance Month (AAM) occurs every April and aims to show support, inclusion, and acceptance for those diagnosed with autism.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of neurological disorders that affect brain development and can lead to challenges with social skills, language/communication, and behavior.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that about 1 in 44 people have been diagnosed with autism.
This awareness initiative is sponsored by the Autism Society of America. Founded in 1965, the Autism Society of America is one of the largest and oldest autism advocacy organizations in the U.S.
Its support efforts have helped the organization grow from a small team of parents into one of the nation’s most trusted sources of information and research. The primary goal of the Autism Society is to empower, include, and give dignity and equality to every individual living with autism.
In addition to the month-long push for acceptance, the United Nations (UN) has named April 2 as World Autism Day to support global advocacy efforts.
The Transition From Awareness to Acceptance
Autism Acceptance Day was previously known as Autism Awareness Day until 2021.
The change in language was made to emphasize the importance of accepting those with autism so they have support throughout their entire lives.
“While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life. … As many individuals and families affected by autism know, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system.”
— Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America
With this change, the Autism Society of America hopes to improve education, employment, health care, housing, and other important factors in the daily lives of those living with autism.
Although the Autism Society called on all members of society and the media to change their language, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has referred to the initiative as Autism Acceptance Month since 2011.
This shift in language aims to spark real change in helping individuals with autism to get the support and resources they need to live happy, successful lives.
The Link Between Autism & Cerebral Palsy
Many children with cerebral palsy are also diagnosed with autism. Because both of these conditions are neurological disorders that affect the brain, they can co-occur.
According to the CDC, about 7.5% of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy also experience coexisting autism.
The exact connection between cerebral palsy and autism is still being researched. Cerebral palsy is often caused by brain damage before, during, or shortly after childbirth.
Cerebral palsy can vary from mild symptoms to severe lifelong impairment. Because every child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis is different, some may experience autism while others may not.
Children with cerebral palsy and autism can manage their symptoms through speech therapy, occupational therapy, medications, and more.
How to Show Your Support
For the past four years, the current theme of Autism Acceptance Month is #CelebrateDifferences.
This campaign focuses on creating connections and empowering those with autism to live their lives to the fullest. Every person is unique, and we should celebrate our differences.
There are many different ways you and your loved ones can partake and support the cause.
Ways to show your support during Autism Acceptance Month include:
- Buy a special edition Autism Society Playmate Pal cooler from Igloo (100% of sales go to the cause)
- Create your own fundraiser to raise money for research
- Donate to the Autism Society
- Educate your children about autism and inclusion
- Share your story on social media with #CelebrateDifferences
- Support those with autism in your community
- Wear blue for autism awareness
By celebrating Autism Acceptance Month, we can create a world where those with autism can thrive. Through education, advocacy, and acceptance, we can make this world a better and more inclusive society for the autism community.