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April: Autism Awareness and Acceptance.

Apr 1st, 2020

The poll results are in: April is now Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month!

AutismBC’s mission is to empower, support, and connect the autism community in BC. We build supportive, inclusive programs for autistic youth and adults and their families. We are a small team of parents, self-advocates, and professionals who are all driven by the same vision: an inclusive society where people on the autism spectrum are living their best life. We are here to listen, we are here to provide expertise, and we are here to empower our 5000 members across the province with tools for success.

Over the past few months, we’ve had many internal discussions about our use of language for Autism Awareness Month. With a growing public debate on the topic, we held a staff meeting to discuss the options and what each of them means: Autism Month vs. Autism Acceptance Month vs. Autism Awareness Month vs. Autism Awareness & Acceptance Month.

The complexity of this conversation and the diversity of the groups concerned means that dialogue can be challenging at times. Still, two key things resonated with all of us: the value of listening and learning, and the need for sensitivity. Following the motto ‘to know, to care, to act,’ we concluded that the most valuable thing was to spark interest in this conversation. We all agreed that once people knew the issues, they could care about them, and once they cared, they could engage in meaningful action.

We recognize that the autism community is unlikely to come to a complete consensus on the title of Autism Awareness Month, and that is okay. What is important is that everyone understands and respects the conversation. It can be easy to follow the loudest voice or attack other points of view; it is much harder to listen to different perspectives and ideas equally.

Some communities are pushing for Autism Month – that is great – they believe in having an all-encompassing term that will bring people together.

Some communities are pushing for Autism Acceptance Month – that is great – they are urging others to take a more active role in focusing on what they can do to be accepting.

Some communities are pushing for Autism Awareness Month – that is great – they are calling on everyone to learn something new this month. Read a blog, check out a book, attend a workshop, listen to a podcast, or have a conversation with someone with a different lived experience.

This April, we invite you to share your ideas, experiences, and feelings on this topic by joining our online poll. We also ask you to listen to other voices and consider their perspectives as valid, even if different. Autism touches all of us in different ways. To build an inclusive community, we need to create a space for these differences. Help us create this safe space for discussion, join our poll today. (Poll closed)

Poll result:

 

Two weeks ago, AutismBC invited you, our community, to share your ideas, experiences, and feelings on the topic of the use of language for Autism Awareness Month by joining our online poll. We’d love to share the poll result with you, and a few valuable comments:

  • “‘Acceptance’ gives a more positive impression of autism than ‘Awareness’. When people ‘accept’, they are already ‘aware’ of it.”
  • “Please consider the voices of those who are actually autistic first and foremost. I see good progress here, keep it going!”
  • “Autism Month is intentionally vague so people can interpret it their own way.”
  • “I don’t think that people understand the complications of Autism. Each person can be so different. If there is some way to make it clearer to the general public that would be amazing.”
  • “As an autistic person, I really appreciate that you are listening to different views and perspectives on this! Thank you :)”

From this poll result, we acknowledge the shift towards “autism acceptance” and it is what we need for our community to be truly inclusive. We also agree that once people knew the issues, they could care about them, and once they cared, they could engage in meaningful action. We recognize that the autism community is unlikely to come to a complete consensus. What’s important is that everyone understands and respects the conversation. It can be easy to follow the loudest voice or attack other points of view; it is much harder to listen to different perspectives and ideas equally.

Autism touches all of us in different ways. To build an inclusive community, AutismBC aims to create a space for these differences. Thank you for helping us create this safe space for discussion.

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