Language works wonders. It is an amazing tool that communicates your wants and thoughts. Its absence causes troubles in life. When you think about it, it is the perfect instrument to get you whatever you need and keep away whatever you don’t.
The Autism Society launched an ongoing effort in 1970 to promote autism awareness. This effort has since been held up, and April has widely been known as ”Autism Awareness Month” in the United States and across the world. In 2021, the Autism Society and the community called on all media to shift their language to actually match what is needed - and it is acceptance.
Autism Society is not the only organization to push for this change. Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has been referring to April as Autism Acceptance Month since 2011. There are many others using ”acceptance” through the month of April.
Shifting The Narrative
This change in name, terminology, has a purpose. It aims to promote acceptance and boost change in various environments including education and employment. Although there has never been a formal designation for the month, pushing for this effort would mean making a change officially at the government level. So a shift began with the language.
Autism is a journey for both the individual and the caretaker. Every journey has its steps along the way, ups and downs. And there is also the perspective and contribution of those who are witnessing this journey. You may be a salesperson who met a person with autism one day at the beginning of their journey when they were having a tough time outside and you didn’t know what to do or even got upset by the situation.
Or you could be a person an autistic individual met along the way, see them struggle with basic communication or get overwhelmed, and understand, or try to understand, what they might be going through at this particular moment. As the Autistic Self Advocacy Network states,
”Acceptance of autism as a natural condition in the human experience is necessary for real dialogue to occur.”
Awareness - What’s the next step?
There are steps to be taken after becoming aware of autism. Today’s world allows us to do much more than just being aware. There are tons of resources out there that can help you grasp the concept and get into action because acceptance is an action. It is an active process where you change the way you think and determine how to act on it.
So April is pretty much our favorite month! It is the time where the autism community gets more attention on their struggles, their joys, and what they need to say. It is the perfect time to point out what is lacking in the education sphere regarding special education for children with autism and those who cannot access quality education.
At Otsimo, that is precisely what we are trying to do. Language and speech deficits can be big challenges for those with special needs. So we started out providing special education to children with autism and aim to democratize access to special education and speech therapy through our game-based education apps Inclusion is important to us, so we expand our content and vary our methods to reach every possible person who would need our apps.. We listen and we learn from those who are autistic or caregivers and parents of those with autism. Through our content, we strive to keep up with developments and dispel myths surrounding autism. Inclusion is important to us, so we expand our content and vary our methods to reach every possible person who would need our apps.
Although awareness is essential, it is not enough. It is time to act because actions will change lives for the better. At Otsimo, we see the results of our actions and efforts every day and are so grateful for our community.
Here is Keri Wilmot, a pediatric occupational therapist, on Otsimo: "This excellent collection of activities is a great way for kids who have learning and attention issues to improve their language skills, and knowledge of everyday things and actions, by engaging in simple, repetitive games. Otsimo Special Education AAC's approach has high appeal and its games are simple for kids to play for short periods of time. The auto-level features can help kids advance their skills over time. It's also nice that parents can customize their kids' experiences. For example, parents can set how much time passes before kids get an automated hint. The clapping sounds for right answers can be really rewarding, especially for kids who benefit from simple praise.”
Now is the best time to take action
Autism Acceptance Month is the perfect time for us, for all of us, to take stock and see what we can do one step further from being aware of autism. One of the goals should be to further increase awareness about autism signs and symptoms so that those who are not yet diagnosed can be diagnosed, and promote and create opportunities in life for the individuals with autism by way of acceptance.
There are many issues in the education sphere when it comes to children with special needs. But there are resources necessary to make a change. This month, the community and organizations will dedicate their time and effort to build an inclusive experience for individuals with autism, and all of us should do our part.
WHERE TO FIND OTISMO