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April 12, 2022

April is Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance month, and is a time for everyone to be a strong voice for those with autism and their families. As with the differences across the autism spectrum itself, how one advocates for those with autism can also differ, depending on one’s perspective and experiences with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The biggest mistake one can make when advocating for the autistic population is becoming convinced that there is only one way, or right way, to advocate. In recent years, for example, there has been a rather intense debate as to whether or not autism is better conceptualized as a disability to be treated or a neuro-variation to be accepted. These two perspectives should not be treated as a forced-choice – you either advocate via the treatment model or through the neurodiverse (acceptance) model. Instead, both perspectives have merit and value, and a combined perspective can lead to proper advocacy. Acceptance should always be the first step. We should all accept the differences in all individuals. That which cannot be changed, should be accepted. However, there are skill deficits and interfering behavior that an individual with autism may experience that indeed can be addressed and, in addressing them through proper supports, can lead to improved quality of life. Advocacy for both acceptance and proper supports, including treatment, is perhaps the most complete way to help those with ASD. This month, take the time to learn both perspectives and ask yourself, ‘How can I be more accepting, while also advocating for how to best help those in the autism community?’

Dr. Leonard Caltabiano, CEO, Family of Kidz

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