White Home Embraces Autism ‘Acceptance’ Over ‘Consciousness’


The White Home was lit blue in 2017 as a part of Autism Speaks’ “Gentle It Up Blue” marketing campaign selling autism consciousness. This yr the president selected to designate a big day for autism acceptance versus consciousness. (Lincoln Pictures)

In a month that’s lengthy been related to autism consciousness, the president is a part of a rising shift towards emphasizing acceptance as a substitute.

For the primary time, President Joe Biden used a proclamation this week to designate “World Autism Acceptance Day,” which was held on Tuesday. In earlier years, the date had been dubbed “World Autism Consciousness Day.”

“I name upon all People to study extra about autism to enhance early prognosis, to study extra in regards to the experiences of autistic folks from autistic folks, and to construct extra welcoming and inclusive communities to assist folks with autism,” Biden wrote within the proclamation touting authorities efforts to handle the wants of individuals with autism by training, employment and different means.

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The language shift comes on the urging of autism advocates, in keeping with Kim Musheno, vice chairman of public coverage on the Autism Society of America.

“We made the change in 2021. I attempted to get the president to modify within the proclamation for the previous two years with out success till this yr,” Musheno stated.

The motion towards autism “acceptance” first emerged as a grassroots effort in 2011 spearheaded by Paula Durbin-Westby, a self-advocate who created a Fb occasion titled “Autism Acceptance Day.” On the time, she stated she was impressed to behave after listening to from others on the spectrum who have been pissed off like she was by consciousness actions centered on soliciting donations.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Community signed on to the brand new terminology in 2013 and different teams together with TASH, the Nationwide Council on Unbiased Dwelling, Easter Seals and the Nationwide Affiliation of Councils on Developmental Disabilities have supported “acceptance” efforts in April at varied occasions since then.

“Whereas in fact we wish folks to find out about autism, the time period ‘consciousness’ can have adverse connotations, implying that the factor we must always concentrate on is one thing to be terrified of or panic about,” stated Zoe Gross, director of advocacy on the Autistic Self Advocacy Community. “In contrast, autism acceptance is about making a society that accommodates and consists of autistic folks in all points of life.”

Globally, the United Nations designated April 2 as World Autism Consciousness Day in 2007 and continues to make use of that language.

Likewise, Autism Speaks nonetheless references “World Autism Consciousness Day” in fundraising appeals and different efforts, however the group can also be now highlighting what it’s calling “World Autism Month” in April.

“On the subject of true inclusion, consciousness and acceptance of autism go hand-in-hand. The fact is that in lots of international locations world wide — and in lots of communities within the U.S. — consciousness and understanding of ASD remains to be sadly missing,” the group stated in an announcement. “World Autism Month is a chance to make sure the autistic neighborhood is totally supported, championed and celebrated. Autism Speaks is working in direction of a world the place whole acceptance of autistic folks — past easy consciousness — is the usual.”

White Home officers didn’t reply to a request for remark in regards to the language change.

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