April is Autism Acceptance Month

April is Autism Acceptance Month
Posted on 04/12/2021
You may have previously heard April being referred to as Autism Awareness Month but Cambridge, along with many other stakeholders in the autism community, is committed to ensuring we are past awareness and are accepting and embracing our neurodiversity. We want to build an inclusive community where all members are valued for their gifts, and true inclusiveness cannot exist without acceptance.

How can you help create a more inclusive community? First and foremost, let’s celebrate all the things that make us unique, which includes our neurological profile! There are many different ways to interact with our world and each other that are all valid. Below are a few key points about autism and how you can help accept autistic individuals* as their authentic selves.

Autistic individuals often have challenges with social interaction and communication, but this does not mean that they do not want to have friends. How can you be a good friend or neighbor to someone who has difficulties in this area? Be patient and persistent. Involve their areas of interest. Please invite your friends and neighbors with autism* on playdates, hangouts, or other times to be social, and also respect if/when they have to put a stop to the activities for the time being. Some individuals with autism might have trouble figuring out how to join in, but are happy to engage once the conversation is started. Individuals with autism may have a hard time reading social cues, so be explicit in your language and don’t rely on your non-verbal communication to relay your message.

Individuals with autism may process sensory feedback related to things in their environment differently than others. They may be too sensitive or not sensitive enough to sights, sounds, smells, tastes or touch. Some autistic individuals might wear headphones or sunglasses indoors, or might only like to wear specific types of clothes. You might see people with autism moving their bodies in ways that are different than ways you might, such as rocking their bodies or flapping their hands. Some people with autism might have difficulty focusing or experience behavioral challenges when they are in an environment that has a lot of sensory stimulation. You can help by avoiding loud and sudden noises, movements, etc. and making sure that everybody in your group has enough room and feels free to move around however feels most comfortable.

These are just a few of the ways you can start being more accepting of individuals with autism.

Quick facts
Want to learn more about autism? Here are just a few places to start
  • About 1 in 54 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Autism is complex, lifelong disability. No two autistic individuals present with the same sets of strengths or challenges
  • Cambridge Public Schools has scholars with ASD at 12 of our 13 elementary schools, all 4 Upper schools, and CRLS

*Some people prefer identify-first language (autistic) and some people prefer person-first (person with autism). Please don’t assume, and ask the individual which they prefer.
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