In its 60th anniversary year, the National Autistic Society has changed the name of its Autism Awareness week to Autism Acceptance Week which runs 28 March to 3April. So what is behind this name change?
The National Autistic Society say:
“Based on your feedback, we’re pleased to announce that we will be changing the name World Autism Acceptance Week (from World Autism Awareness Week). Thank you to everyone who helped with this”.
This change has come from individuals with autism themselves in a bid to make their condition a difference that society should accommodate rather than simply be made aware of. In the past a common view was that autism was a condition that needed to be ‘fixed’. This narrative needs to change to one that accepts and accommodates autism. For example, rather than the onus being on the person with autism to change what can YOU do to support someone with autism? How can you change your surroundings to make it more accessible for them?
Some ideas on how to do this include:-
- Removing sensory overload such as bright colours and loud noises.
- Keep language clear and literal – e.g. avoid sarcasm and idioms.
- Allow plenty of processing time in reply to a question you have asked.
- Be patient if someone with autism appears to have been very direct with you. This can be a common trait that can inadvertently cause offence to others. However, remember in other cultures this is often seen to be more acceptable than it is in the UK.
- Use visuals to support understanding e.g. of timetable changes.
Some more ideas about how to support people with autism can be found here.
As discussed in an article I wrote last year, it is important to remember the many positives that autism can bring and why people with this diagnosis are highly valued members of our communities for example attention to detail and expert knowledge.