In 2010, one child in 125 received a diagnosis of autism. By 2020, autism affected more than twice as many children with a ratio of one in 54. The scope and impact of autism on families and communities around the globe has led to much greater awareness of the condition.
The Autism Society of America first made a nationwide effort to increase awareness of autism in 1970. The society’s primary goal was to highlight the struggles children and adults with autism face.
They also worked to provide resources for the autistic to achieve the highest possible quality of life. Two years later, they sponsored National Autistic Children’s Week for the first time. The name evolved to Autism Acceptance Month a short time later.
The sheer number of families impacted by autism prompted their Acceptance Month campaign. The goal is to increase awareness of the signs, symptoms, gifts, and challenges of autism. The campaign now uses the following resources to help achieve its goals:
- Creating digital and printable resources
- Forming community partnerships with non-profit organizations and businesses willing to provide more inclusive experiences
- Hosting events
- Providing information and referrals
For Autism Acceptance Month in 2021, the campaign chose “Celebrate Differences” as its theme. As part of this theme, the campaign hopes to push for greater autism acceptance.
Additionally, the campaign encourages individuals and businesses to practice inclusiveness. Lastly, the campaign overlaps with World Autism Day, which took place on April 2, 2021.
A More Inclusive Future for People with Autism
Language plays a big role in how people perceive autism. It also impacts how others treat autistic persons.
Dr. Malia Beckwith of Children’s Specialty Hospital in New Jersey appreciates that Autism Society of America’s annual campaign goes by Autism Acceptance (not Awareness) Month.
She explains that people being aware of something does not mean they are accepting of it. This is especially true in the classroom environment.
Dr. Beckwith knows from working with families in her practice that children with autism face significant bullying and rejection in school. Part of the problem is that other kids don’t always understand that their classmates with autism want to participate with peers.
Classmates see peers with autism isolate themselves and avoid social interaction. They assume this means the autistic student wants to be alone. But in reality, he or she may simply have anxiety or struggles with the social conventions needed to participate.
“Moving from awareness to acceptance implies not just words but actions by others that will help those on the spectrum and their families experience greater happiness, enhanced quality of life and more opportunity to reach their full potential.” – Dr. Malia Beckwith, Jersey’s Best
Going Beyond Awareness to Autism Acceptance
Once children with autism become aware of their differences, they face a high risk of depression if the bullying and rejection continues. Kids on the spectrum have expressed disappointment with use of the word awareness rather than acceptance when it comes to autism.
As one 13-year-old told Dr. Beckwith, the term ‘awareness’ makes him feel that others want to cure him. Because autism makes him who he is, he’d much prefer that people practice use ‘acceptance’ instead.
This patient’s mother agreed while also noting that society has long implied that autistic people need to change who they are to gain acceptance. By contrast, she only wants her son to be himself and be the best person he can be.
Society can help those like her son by not showing fear of those on the spectrum, and by offering support instead. She also feels strongly that acceptance moves well beyond awareness.
A Few Tips from Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Though using person-first language to describe people with disabilities has gained traction in the last few decades, not everyone favors it. Some prefer that others refer to them as an ‘autistic person’ rather than a ‘person with autism’. They feel that autism is a part of who they are and that separation isn’t needed.
One example is that very few people would say “people with Australian citizenship” instead of Australians. Many think saying “people with autism” sounds just as strange. However, it is advised to ask people on the spectrum which option they prefer.
Some autistic people have no desire to live their lives just as other people do. They are okay with others seeing their signs of autism. These signs include little things like not making eye contact or body movements that some might think aren’t normal.
Many with autism would instead prefer greater support for those on the spectrum. Steps that would better support those on the spectrum include:
- Accommodations and support for daily living
- Reducing anxiety
- Assistance finding employment and on-the-job support
- Educational assistance
- Relief from hypersensitivity to sound, light, touch, and/or texture
All human want support and acceptance, and those with autism are no different.
IQbuds² MAX Assist with Auditory Overload
The hybrid noise cancelling tech used in IQbuds² MAX helps reduce auditory discomfort. Many of those with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) report relief from symptoms when using MAX. A key feature of the earbuds is the ability to turn off the noise of the outside world with a simple tap of the ear. Other benefits of the MAX earbuds include:
- Speech-in-noise control. This feature reduces or enhances sounds based on their frequency. Users can reduce unwanted noise while enhancing speech and other desired sounds. This provides a greater sense of control for the user since autism produces different sound sensitivities in everyone.
- Nuheara earbuds are small and wireless, unlike bulky noise-cancelling headphones for autism. This appeals to those who may feel self-conscious about wearing headphones that draw unwanted attention unto themselves.
IQbuds² MAX provide autistic users with enhanced audio support. The earbuds don’t cure autism, but may help decrease sensory overload for many. As a result, more on the spectrum can discover the power to engage in life on their terms.