April is usually known as Autism Awareness Month, but the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), an advocacy group for and by people with autism, has been looking to re-brand it Autism Acceptance Month. They’re calling for April to be a “celebration of Autistic culture and community.”
For me, this resonates a lot more than Autism Awareness Month. I’m already very much aware of autism. Two of my four kids have Asperger Syndrome, and I’ve been living and breathing autism awareness for quite some time now. So have my husband, our two kids with ASDs, their siblings, our entire extended family, and our friends.
Awareness months are important. They remind us to take action. Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October reminds us to schedule mammograms; in February, American Heart Month reminds us to stop eating so much salt and maybe go for a run instead. But I’m not sure I need my community to take personal action, as much as I’d like people to just accept my kids they way they are.
Perhaps there isn’t much difference between asking for awareness versus asking for acceptance; both are about education, really. But acceptance requires a very small shift in thought.