Issy is an autistic young person who works for YDAS as a Map Your Future Co-facilitator. They wrote this piece about Autism Acceptance Month.
This month is Autism Acceptance Month! It is a time to celebrate the amazing aspects of every autistic individual and the autism community. Autism Acceptance Month asks for more than just awareness of autistic people. It calls for us to be valued, respected, lifted up, seen and heard!
In the past, autism campaigns focused on awareness. The aim of the campaigns was to make the public aware of autism.
But now, when campaigns aim to just make people aware, they often forget to highlight autistic voices and experiences. They often show stereotyped parts of the community.
Autism is so much more than that. Autistic people deserve more than just to exist and be known, we deserve to be accepted and valued for the people that we are!
That is why the name has changed. From ‘Autism Awareness’ to ‘Autism Acceptance.’ We want the world to respect and portray the autism community in an accurate way.
In February 2020, the Victorian government started a $2.8 million public education campaign about autism called Change Your Reactions. It was with Amaze, the peak body for autistic people and supports in Victoria. The actors were autistic people. This was very important. It showed autistic people in a way they had not been shown before.
The campaign was not perfect, but it reached a lot of people with its message. This is so important in changing the stereotyped story of autism.
Most of the campaign was short videos but it also had information and a website with resources about autism. Campaigns like this do not happen often. One funded by the state government was a step in the right direction. It was a step towards supporting all autistic people, especially young people.
The autism community is made of so many loving people of different talents and experiences. When we are not understood by non-autistic people, it can be really hard to handle. That is why Autism Acceptance Month, Hoodie Up For Autism Day and World Autism Awareness Day are so important. We need to share our voices to silence the negativity that hurts our community.
It can be very difficult living in a world that was not made for us. But being able to share those struggles and support each other, is so important. So is accepting support from allies and non-autistic people.
By speaking out and supporting one another in our journeys and experiences, we are changing the story that is told about autism. That is the most powerful thing of all. We are making our own destiny.
So, we celebrate Autism Acceptance Month in honour of all the amazing autistic people in our world and all the amazing things they are doing. If the rest of the world does not accept us, then they lose some of the most amazing people.
Autistic people can be:
- And so much more!
Please remember to reach out to anyone you know who is autistic. Let them know you love, respect and appreciate them, not only in Autism Acceptance Month, but every day. We are working really hard just to be ourselves. We deserve to be accepted.
How have you celebrated Autism Acceptance Month?