April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month. Here’s What You Can Do As An Ally.

Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, which happens in April each year, following World Autism Day (2 April), can be an upsetting time for actually Autistic people. The reasons for the discord are many. But just like Hannah Gadsby, I identify as tired. So, I’m going to give you a short list of some practical things to do to direct your well-intentioned support into neuro-affirming action.

Firstly, please know that the Autistic community is as widely diverse in presentations, experiences, likes, dislikes, abilities and disabilities as the non-Autistic community. If you have met one Autistic person, you have met one Autistic person.

  1. Get your information from actually Autistic people. This makes sense, right? If you want to learn about another culture, you would, presumably, gather that information directly from the people of that culture. We are lucky to have some wonderful Autistic-led organisations in this country, including Yellow Ladybugs, Amaze, iCan and Reframing Autism. If you have an Autistic child, go straight to the Autistic-led organisations that advocate and educate. There are many actually Autistic therapists (speech pathologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, OTs etc.) who understand Autism from the inside out. Search for the hashtag #actuallyautistic online to find them. (N.B. that hashtag is intended to be used by actually Autistic people themselves so do confirm this when you choose to follow someone for lived experience.) Assume that the actually Autistic community, the people with lived experience, are the experts in Autism. #nothingaboutuswithoutus
  2. Learn about Autism. You can do this by attending the wonderful conferences run by Yellow Ladybugs and Reframing Autism (see point above), or by buying books written by actually Autistic people. Here is a tiny fraction of just some of the books I recommend.
  3. Go yellow or go rainbow (but please don’t go blue and, please, no jigsaw pieces.)
  4. The best way you can show your support for your Autistic loved one is to educate yourself, learning from the right people (i.e. those with lived experience and/or are actively neuro-affirming).

Books to Buy!