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The month of April has long been recognized as Autism Awareness month by groups all over the world. The Autism Society of America, along with local organizations including the Hub for Autism and Neurodiversity, Scholars with Diverse Abilities, LIFE Village and others, are encouraging a change in terminology from “autism awareness” to “autism acceptance.”

The slight change in words is a step in the right direction towards inclusion for individuals on the autism spectrum and to improve support for opportunities in education, employment, housing, health care and long-term services.

“While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life,” said Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “As many individuals and families affected by autism know, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system.”

“Through our local organizations, we also want to support families through the provision of resources and connection,” said Mary Sheryl Horine from the Hub for Autism and Neurodiversity, a project at the ASU Institute for Health and Human Services.

In the fall we will be opening the Hub for Diverse Abilities which will welcome people with disabilities, caregivers, educators, families, students and faculty and staff into a dedicated space designed to provide support for individuals with developmental disabilities. The Hub will have resources to check out, a maker space, opportunities for connection and counseling and small group activities to support skill building in a variety of areas.

Jim Taylor, President Emeritus of LIFE Village reports that in April a LIFE Village office will be opened in Boone to not only help promote the acceptance theme, but also to help provide families with adult loved ones with autism with information and possible living arrangements.

Autism community advocates across the country have a long-standing history of using the term “acceptance” as a means of more fully integrating those 1 in every 54 Americans living with autism into our social fabric. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has been framing April as Autism Acceptance Month since 2011, stating “Acceptance of autism as a natural condition in the human experience is necessary for real dialogue to occur.”

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