In Autism Community Everyday Is Autism Awareness & Acceptance Day

By Dr. Kerry Magro, disability advocate, best-selling author and award-winning speaker

In 2007, the United Nations proclaimed April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, a day every year people around the US and the world spread the word about autism whether through word of mouth or participating in events.

Sometimes people will even keep it up all April long, as for decades now April has been called different names such as National Autism Awareness Month, Autism Acceptance Month, and World Autism Month.

Once that day and month is over though there tends to be a drop off…

Those Personally Impacted by Autism are Reminded Every Day

But not for us. Not for those personally impacted by autism.

Every day is World Autism Awareness Day in our autism community.

I was nonverbal till I was 2.5 and was originally diagnosed with autism at 4 in 1992.

Back then there was no one in my family who celebrated a day to highlight our autism community. This lack of awareness my parents believe was a huge reason why it took 18 months to get a formal diagnosis of autism for me.

All visibility on autism seemed to be focused on the movie “Rain Man”. Everyone thought of autism as a disorder that impacted only boys and that every person with autism was great at math.

Autism Awareness Has Increased Significantly

I’m happy to say today as an adult I now see autism quite more visible especially in our entertainment industry.

I can turn on my television for example and see characters like Julia, the first Muppet with autism on “Sesame Street” and Dr. Shaun Murphy, a surgeon on the autism spectrum featured on “The Good Doctor”. I can then stream shows that feature characters like Max Braverman, a young boy with autism on “Parenthood” and Sam Gardener, a young adult with autism transitioning to adulthood on “Atypical”. Celebrities are even coming out today about being on the autism spectrum such as Dan Aykroyd and Susan Boyle.

In addition to that, we are now hearing more from self-advocates. So many individuals such as myself who grew up with autism are now having their voices heard, like Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Stephen Shore. I believe that as awareness has improved, it was a significant reason why I was able to succeed – today I am an adult who just received his Doctorate in Education and is self-employed as a professional speaker.

Many People Now Understand Autism is on a Spectrum

What’s also much more visible today is the understanding that autism is a spectrum. With the discussion of the spectrum, more people now know that some with autism may be able to live independently while others on the more severe end of the autism spectrum may need lifetime care.

We’ve come a long way in terms of spotlighting what autism really is, but we still have a very long way to go.

We Still Need Improvement in Many Important Areas for Autism Awareness and Support

For example, we still don’t have autism insurance reform in all 50 states in the United States and globally we have countries that often lack the supports to provide even the bare minimum such as a special education classroom in the schools,  let alone therapists and/or educational technology.

Our educational system can also improve by having educators who take on certificate programs and other trainings. In public school from Pre-K through 4th grade I often struggled in my classes because very few teachers had experience in Autism Spectrum Disorders or truly understood them.

This made my parents have to take on additional work as my advocates through tutors and additional assistive technology to make sure I didn’t fall through the cracks. When I speak in K-12, I find that some educators even to this day have no prior ASD training and minimal knowledge about the subject, yet they still often work with students on the autism spectrum.

This is why I’m asking everyone today who reads this to continue to push for awareness and acceptance all year round. We must make autism more visible around the globe. Autism doesn’t stop in April. It’s 365 days a year.

Actionable Ways You Can Help

There are some great ways to get involved. These are just a few ideas to get you started…

  • Raise money and/or volunteer for an autism nonprofit
  • Learn the signs of autism
  • Show love to people with autism
  • Host a monologue day at your school where students who feel comfortable can share what it’s like for them growing up with autism
  • Advocate for local legislation that could help those with autism as they grow up
  • Tell your job to host a lunch-and-learn or other special type of event that promotes diversity not only for those with autism but other special needs
  • Listen to family members, friends, experts and those living with autism

Continuing Education in Autism for Educators

Educating yourself is another significant way to help make an impact. During my time as a Board Member of International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) I’ve learned more about the deep impact their programs have from their certificate programs to their trainings.

You can also see if there will be an International Symposium on Cognitive Research and Disorders (ISCRD) coming to your area by following IBCCES on Facebook.

How Can You Contribute to Autism Awareness and Acceptance?

In closing, I just wanted to say that autism will affect us all in some way in the future whether we have a family member, student, employee, friend, a co-worker’s child or simply knowing someone in our local town.

Making autism visible all-year round will hopefully lead to things such as quicker diagnosis rates and for those with autism to receive more reliable resources to help them across the lifespan.

For those who are already pushing autism awareness and acceptance every day already – I want to say I hope you know you’re making a difference. We have the power to make change in this community.


This guest article is by IBCCES Board Member Kerry Magro, a professional speaker best-selling author and autism entertainment consultant who is on the autism spectrum.

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