Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Autism Acceptance Month

Guest Post by Gale Juntunen, GSWNY Volunteer Experience Specialist

April is Autism Acceptance Month or Autism Awareness Month.

There’s no denying that Autism Awareness has increased over the years. However, many still don’t have full awareness. It’s important to note that autism is not a disease, deficit, or learning disability. People diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) simply communicate differently. Their social interactions are different from what is currently considered neurotypical or “normal .”Their comfort zone is in (self) restricted or repetitive activities or behavior patterns.

Unfortunately, autism, for the most part, gets defined by deficits. For example, many relate autism to negatives like risk, disability, disorder, impairment, and a disease with well-meaning people and organizations fundraising and seeking a “cure .”The “disease model” and the “deficit model” of describing autism are unfortunate, unfair, and give an incorrect idea about many diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Would it surprise you that much of the current autism research is funded by the pharmaceutical industry?   Did you know that autism is a natural variation of our neurodivergent population? Other neurodiverse people would be people with depression, dyslexia, ADHD, and on and on it goes. Every person is an individual in so many ways, and autism is just a name for that 1% of the population whose brains work differently.

Everyone with autism has their own unique combination of abilities, strengths, and special characteristics ~ benefits that should be celebrated. Researchers describe autism this way, as “a human variant with extreme advantages” and that autism is “a human characteristic, like brown hair or being left-handed” it “simply means having a brain that is wired differently.” 

People who are autistic can approach situations differently and think outside the box. They have above-average attention to detail. They can have strong systems abilities – like being excellent with computer programming, mathematics, etc. They have a range of intellectual skills, including exceptional intellect. More strengths of autism lie in musical abilities, creativity, skills in art and design because of their visual-spatial solid skills.

Many people are celebrated across the globe for their artistry, intellect, and impact on our world today who have been named in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs’ list of “History’s 30 Most Inspiring People on the Autism Spectrum.” Please find the list below and visit https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/historys-30-most-inspiring-people-on-the-autism-spectrum/ for more information.

Steve JobsDan AykroydHans Christian AndersonCharles Darwin
Nikola TeslaTim BurtonLewis CarrollAlbert Einstein
Elon MuskDaryl HannahEmily DickinsonAlfred Kinsey
Bill GatesStanley KubrickJames JoyceSir Isaac Newton
Bobby FischerJerry SeinfeldMichelangeloThomas Edison
Courtney LoveAnthony HopkinsWilliam Butler YeatsBenjamin Franklin
Henry FordJim HensonAndy WarholCarl Jung
Alexander Graham BellStephen SpeilbergLeonardo da VinciBob Dylan
Wolfgang Amadeus MozartAlfred HitchcockVincent VanGoghLudwig van Beethoven

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