Does someone in your life have autism? According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March 2023, 1 in every 36 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. That’s an increase from 1 in every 44 children.
It’s one thing to be aware of autism and how it affects those we love. But it’s quite another for society to welcome people with autism as friends, neighbors and colleagues. Annually, April is Autism Acceptance Month, which is a perfect time to educate about the disorder. But why not promote acceptance all year long? Here are five simple things you can do to help others be more understanding.
Wear your autism pride: Autism has been represented by multiple symbols throughout time, such as puzzle pieces and ribbons. Now, you’ll typically see rainbow or gold-colored infinity icons, which symbolize how an autistic person can go through a wide range of experiences. Whether it’s a pin or a t-shirt, take every opportunity to sport that infinity symbol. Wearing it frequently communicates that autism is a normal condition. You might even inspire others to start wearing them too.
Watch your words: You’ll likely encounter individuals who refer to themselves as “autistic,” while others prefer “person with autism.” Which is more acceptable? Frankly, there has been plenty of discussion about this topic. The best thing is to simply ask the person or one of their family members what they prefer. By doing so, you respect their choice.
If you see something, say something: Some people with autism might repeat their words, get upset over minor adjustments or spin themselves in circles. When you see situations like these, it’s easy to ignore them. But don’t let the moment pass. Instead, take time to teach others, especially children, about how people react differently in situations and express emotions differently.
Be inclusive with the media you consume: Start searching for books, TV shows, movies, etc. that include characters with disabilities, such as autism. Make them part of your family’s regular routine. For example, Disney’s new film, “Peter Pan & Wendy,” features an actor with Down syndrome. It’s reportedly the first time the company has hired a person with Down syndrome to play a major role in a feature film.
Spread the social word: A “like” or comment can go a long way on a friend’s social media post. Imagine what it could do for an autistic person sharing their journey. By following blogs and social media pages that highlight autism research and stories, you encourage the creators to continue educating their followers. Now, take things a step further and share some of these posts with your networks. You never know who might be listening.
Stephanie Choporis is on staff with Envision Unlimited.
Since 1948, Envision Unlimited has been dedicated to helping people with disabilities live happy, fulfilled lives in their communities. Our offerings--which include day programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; mental health, residential, and employment services; and specialized foster care--are designed to address the unique needs of each of our clients regardless of age, background, or ability.
Our services are grounded in a spirit of advocacy and empowerment. We believe that all individuals are capable of living successful lives if given the right opportunities. Contact us today to see how we can help you!