Autism Acceptance Month
4/12 tip Autism Awareness month
April is Autism Acceptance month. According to the CDC about 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Studies have shown elevated rates of autism, autistic traits and neurodiversity in trans and non-binary individuals. In fact, a 2020 study found that trans folx were 3-6x as likely to be on the autism spectrum.
Autistic adults have high rates of unemployment or under-employment, less likely to go beyond a high school education, and have fewer social connection/interactions.
From the traditional medical model, these issues are seen as being due to deficits in brain functioning and social development.
The newer perspective comes from the neurodiversity movement, which has come from an increased involvement and centering of the lived experiences of Autistic people themselves. This model sees the disability as resulting from a mismatch between the person’s needs and their environment.
This view positions Autism as part of the natural neurodiversity of humans. This perspective sees autism (and ADHD, dyslexia, etc.) as a form of human diversity that is actually beneficial on a societal level, even if it may be associated with stigma on the individual level. Autistic individuals tend to favor a rainbow infinity symbol representing diversity and completeness.
Many autistic adults seek inclusion and acceptance, not a cure. They do not see their way of thinking and behaving as a problem, just different. As such they see the lack of understanding and stigma associated with the label autism that is the problem to be fixed.
This is why there has been a shift away from the awareness movement to the acceptance movement that is championed by the neurodiversity movement. So, campaigns aligned with fundraising for a cure, that do not center autistic individuals, and that utilize the puzzle piece symbol as a symbol are often rejected by the neurodiversity movement.
Source: Harvard Business Review, CDC, & the 2020 study from Warrier, et al. in Nature Communications.
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