April, 2023

Casino Night, Autism Acceptance Month, and more!

Read on to learn more about what we have been up to at Alliance of Disability Advocates this month. Also includes an article from a member of our team about key things to know related to Autism Acceptance Month.

Upcoming Events

Do you have tickets for Casino Night yet?

Casino Night is next month! We will see you soon for our annual Casino Night Fundraiser on Thursday May 18, 2023 from 6-9 PM at Bowstring Pizza and Brewyard. Get ready for an amazing night of faux casino gambling, music, catered food, an auction, and prizes while supporting services for disabled individuals in our community. Donations will go to supporting our Reentry Program. Tickets are available on our website for $75 per person at adanc.org/casino-night-2023/ or at the door for $100. If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring the event, email Ali Ingersoll at adacasino@adanc.org

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Current Happenings in the Disability World

Autism Acceptance Month: FAQ

by Emily Kibler | April 27, 2023

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April is Autism Acceptance Month! This celebration has changed vastly in the past few years, so we decided to answer some common questions we hear about what this month means and why it has changed.

 

Why is it now Autism Acceptance Month when it used to be Autism Awareness Month?

 

The shift from awareness to acceptance began in 2011 when advocates noticed that April was being used to speak over the voices of Autistic individuals and instead give money and power to organizations promoting harmful practices. Awareness is a passive action. It requests for people to acknowledge the presence of Autism without having to change the way they think about or interact with Autistic individuals. Acceptance builds off the base level of awareness and requires people to take the extra step to confront the prejudice facing the Autistic community and listen to the voices of those with lived experience.

 

In 2021, the name was officially changed to Autism Acceptance Month.

 

 

What is ABA Therapy and why is it harmful?

 

For many years, the conversation around Autism was focused solely on the parents of Autistic individuals. It framed the Autistic person as a burden and their parents as the ones who needed support. Therapies like Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) were used as an attempt to force individuals (usually children) to act less Autistic through any means necessary.

 

On the outside, it often appeared to work. Children learned how to force themselves to make eye contact even if it meant they couldn't focus on anything else and caused them extreme stress. If a child threw "temper tantrums," they were held down and sometimes beaten until they learned to keep their emotions inside. Parents thought it was helping their children act normal to better fit in with society, but many Autistic individuals who underwent this treatment had significant trauma. They still had the same big emotions, but instead of learning how to express their feelings productively, they held them inside and taught themselves to be numb and punish themselves for acting "weird."

 

While ABA therapy has gotten more humane in recent years, it is often still used to force Autistic people into a societal box instead of helping them understand their thoughts and actions. Therefore, many Autistic individuals fight against its use.

 

 

What is wrong with the puzzle piece?

 

You may have heard that the puzzle piece is meant to symbolize how Autistic people are an important piece of the puzzle that makes up humanity. This is a nice thought, but the truth is that this is very far from the original meaning of the symbol.

 

The puzzle piece was first used as a logo in 1963 by the National Autistic Society. In the center of the puzzle piece was an image of a crying child, meant to represent how people with Autism suffered from "a puzzling condition." It displayed Autism as a tragedy. In more recent years, the puzzle piece has become popularized by Autism Speaks. While their logo doesn’t include the crying child, it does carry the same meaning. Autism Speaks has been vocal about their support of ABA therapy and their search for a "cure," even when individuals in the community fight back and say they don't need to be "fixed" to have a fulfilling life.

 

If you want a better symbol to show your support, try using the rainbow or gold infinity sign. The rainbow infinity sign represents the entirety of the neurodivergent community and gold is specifically for Autism. These were both created by members of the community to take back the power from harmful organizations.

 

Caveat: While the vast majority of the Autistic community is opposed to the puzzle piece, it should be noted that some have reclaimed the symbol and wear it proudly. However, that is a decision that can only be made by an Autistic person, and given the negative relationship many have with the symbol, it should be used sparingly, if ever.

 

 

Where can I go if I have other questions?

 

The Autism Self Advocacy Network is widely supported by the Autistic community and has plenty of resources to help with any other questions you may have. Learn more at https://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/what-we-believe/



"Accessibility and disability inclusion is everyone’s responsibility and opportunity. This is a movement, not a moment. And it involves all of us."


― Sinéad Burke, Writer and Disability Activist

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