Friday, March 27, 2020

Autism Acceptance Month Ideas for Families

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April is autism acceptance month. Here are some autism acceptance month ideas and activities that you and your family can do to participate.

In case you didn't already know it, April is Autism Acceptance Month. But you probably know it as Autism Awareness Month, right?

And there are lots of things you can do as a family to educate yourself and teach your children about autism and neurodiversity.


Because even if you don't know an autistic person yourself (although you likely do), you likely have an autistic co-worker. And there's likely an autistic child in your child's classroom or school.

They deserve to be accepted and embraced for who they are, just like every other human being on this planet. It's why autistic adults have been pushing for years for the world to ditch the idea of autism awareness campaigns and instead turn to autism acceptance.

So this April, I encourage you and your family to move beyond autism awareness by learning more about autism and neurodiversity with these autism acceptance month ideas and activities.

April is known as Autism Awareness Month, but it's time to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month instead!

Autism Acceptance vs. Autism Awareness: It's an Important Distinction

You probably notice that I am using the term acceptance instead of awareness here. And there's a reason.

I strongly encourage you to rethink who and what you support during autism acceptance month because the autism awareness campaigns and initiatives that you're likely familiar with aren't ideal. In fact, autistic adults have continually spoken out against these ideas and push for celebrating autism acceptance instead of the widely publicized autism awareness month and World Autism Awareness Day.

If you'd like to read more about the distinction between the two, this article called Acceptance vs. Awareness is really helpful.

Autism Acceptance Month Ideas & Resources: 10+ Ways Your Family Can Participate this April

Now that you know a bit more background information on acceptance vs. awareness, here are some autism acceptance month ideas and activities to do with your family.

1. Read an autism picture book with your kids.

2. Watch the Pixar shorts "Loop" (can't find a full version on YouTube for this to link here) and "Float" as they are great for promoting autism acceptance.

3. Color a neurodiversity infinity symbol to display at home. It's important to avoid the autism puzzle piece icon due to its problematic and ableist history.

4. Talk to your kids about autism and disabilities and explain that not all disabilities are visible. I can almost guarantee that there will be a kid in their class or school that has an autism diagnosis.

5. Learn more about autism by reading a book about autism. My top picks for someone new to autism and neurodiversity would be Uniquely Human or The Reason I Jump, but if you are ready to dive into something more meaty, I highly recommend Neurotribes. Or try one of these free neurodiversity ebooks. Even better yet, read a book by an autistic author, such as The Reason I Jump, or an autistic anthology, such as Loud Hands

6. Join an autistic-led group and start listening to and learning from autistic people in the autism community themselves. 

7. Read a book that features an autistic main character or read one out loud together as a family. Or better yet, look for an #OwnVoices book that is not only written by an autistic author, but features an autistic character.

8. Educate yourself about these common autism myths. These myths are often perpetuated and shared as part of autism awareness campaigns, which further stigmatizes the autistic community. Unfortunately, these myths also delay people from pursuing an autism diagnosis because their concerns are often dismissed along the lines of something like, "Oh he can't be autistic because he's so social!" Knowing about these myths means that you are better able to combat them and correct others when they push these harmful narratives.

9. Donate an autism picture book to your child's classroom so that it can be shared with lots of children.

10. Learn about neurodiversity. This calendar of neurodiversity resources from The Neurodivergent Teacher is a fantastic starting point.

11. Start reading blogs and sharing articles and content written by actually autistic people. For example, you could start watching and sharing some of these Ask an Autistic videos.

12. Read up about identity-first language and start getting comfortable using the word autistic. This article called The Significance of Semantics: Person-First Language: Why it Matters from Autistic Hoya is a great read!

13. If your child's school or your workplace is promoting autism awareness events, then skip the blue on April 2nd (which well known as Autism Awareness Day) and wear #RedInstead.

14. Watch the "Amazing Things Happen" short. This video would be great for world autism month events, assemblies, and presentations.

15. Color in a Neurodivergent Narwhals coloring page from The Neurodiversity Library. They are an adorable way to promote autism acceptance.

16. Donate to an autism organization, but please research the organization you are donating to first as not all are created equal. The Autistic Self Adovcacy Network is a good one to donate to. You might also have one local to you that might be worth donating to.

Hopefully you find these autism acceptance month ideas helpful!

Other Autism Acceptance Resources You'll Love

Instead of Autism Awareness Month, celebrate Autism Acceptance Month this April  with these awesome autism acceptance month activities and ideas