The Autism Society of America is kicking-off its annual #CelebrateDifferences campaign in April with two exciting events on Facebook Live. On April 1st, a panel discussion about Autism Acceptance Month will feature autistic self-advocates, Anthony Ianni, Chloe Rothschild and Kris Guin; then on April 2nd, Freeform’s cast of ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’ will lead a discussion on what it means to accept people no matter their differences.
#CelebrateDifferences aims to champion those affected by autism to live full, quality lives through connection and acceptance. This coincides with the Autism Society’s collaborative effort to advocate for a formal federal designation to make April Autism Acceptance Month.
“It’s not enough to know that someone has autism, we need to accept and push for inclusion so that individuals can fully participate in our social fabric,” said Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “Acceptance recognizes the large and diverse community of individuals whose needs must be considered. That’s why we believe that #CelebrateDifferences is so important. It champions individuals with autism and their families to live full, quality lives through connection and acceptance.”
The #CelebrateDifferences campaign will also include a social media call to action for those with autism. #IAmMe asks individuals with autism to share photos, videos and stories showcasing themselves, their passions and their talents to cultivate inclusivity in everyday life.
“Throughout my life, I was always taught to accept others for who they are, and to treat people with kindness and respect,” said Anthony Lanni, a self-advocate from East Lansing, MI, and member of the Autism Society’s Panel of People on the Spectrum of Autism. “It’s time for society to do the same for the autism community and accept our community for our unique strengths, talents, and potential that we bring to the world.”
Today, the Autism Society of America is sharing resources designed to inform and encourage communities to celebrate differences and become more inclusive of individuals with autism in preparation for April. #CelebrateDifferences and #IamMe will run throughout the month across social and digital platforms. These resources will be made available on social media for sharing as well as on the Autism Society’s website for download.
The celebrations will begin on April 1st with a special announcement from lead sponsor, Make Waves Family Foundation, to kickoff the month. Also on April 1st, the Autism Society will host a panel discussion on Facebook Live with self-advocates across the country who will discuss the importance of acceptance, and how we can build a more inclusive society. On April 2nd, the Autism Society will host a Facebook Live event with the cast of Freeform’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay,” including neuro-diverse actors Kayla Cromer and Lillian Carrier, alongside co-stars, Josh Thomas, Maeve Press and Adam Faison; the cast will celebrate Autism Acceptance Month and offer a sneak peak into Season 2, premiering April 8 at 10 p.m. EDT/PDT.
Autism Acceptance Month
With the #CelebrateDifferences campaign, the Autism Society of America is also leading a collaborative effort with autism and disability organizations nationwide to advocate to the Biden Administration to formally designate April as Autism Acceptance Month. This is a shift from the commonly used phrase “Autism Awareness Month,” which has never had a formal designation, but has been widely celebrated on a global scale by the autism community. For many national and local autism organizations, ‘acceptance’ has long been in use, in place of awareness.
The advocacy effort reflects the need for full inclusion for all members of the autism community.
Autism Society of America’s goal for Autism Acceptance Month is to advance inclusive practices in policy as well as everyday life. Fostering acceptance can ignite change through improved support and opportunities in education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care and comprehensive long-term services and support for those affected by autism.
Source: Autism Society of America news release