Celebrating Autism Acceptance Month
Since 2008, April has been recognized as Autism Awareness Month in Ohio. The intent was designed to bring awareness to autism and to encourage and empower individuals with autism in Ohio and their families.
Last year, Governor DeWine signed a proclamation to recognize April as Autism Acceptance Month, which states, “the purpose of Autism Acceptance Month in Ohio is to spread awareness, foster acceptance, and identify the public policy improvements needed for people with autism to live fully across all areas of life.”
The transition from the word awareness to acceptance may not seem like a big deal. But, words matter and the shift to acceptance accounts for accommodating the feelings of others and accepting and celebrating our differences. Acceptance requires taking conscious action and shifting from not only seeing and recognizing that autism exists, but seeking to listen and learn, and then adapting our perspectives and behaviors. Just being aware of autism facts and information will not necessarily lead to acceptance or create inclusive and supportive environments in our schools, communities, and relationships. However, by intentionally moving toward acceptance, we can inspire confidence and a vision for possibilities that motivate us to continue to ensure that people with disabilities can live their best lives for their whole lives.
Acceptance is also the first step toward inclusion. Inclusion then leads to belonging, which is essential to truly connecting and relating to others. Unfortunately, acceptance and belonging are often the biggest barriers to inclusion that people with autism and their families encounter. At OCALI, our mission is to inspire change and promote access to opportunities for people with disabilities. Over the years, we have been working hard to break down traditional barriers for people with autism and other disabilities and explore things that others may not have yet seen as possible. While we have made significant progress, we have more work to do and we continue to explore and learn new ways of listening, understanding, and modeling. Our words and work must then translate into action.
The good news is that we don’t have to do this alone. As leaders and practitioners, autistic and disabled people, parents, family members, neighbors, and community members, we ALL play a role in inspiring the change we wish to see.
Throughout the month of April, we encourage you to seek out opportunities that promote acceptance—for yourself and within your own communities. Following are a few simple ideas to get started:
Learn more. Explore information and resources about autism. A few websites to check out:
The Autism Center at OCALI
The Autism Society of Ohio
Interagency Work Group on Autism
Show support. Many organizations are hosting Autism Acceptance Month social media campaigns. You can easily show your support by reviewing and sharing the information and using designated social media tags. This month, OCALI is using the hashtags #TriedAndTrue and #AutismAcceptance as part of a month-long email and social media campaign. Each week, we are featuring tips and strategies that families, educators, professionals, and people with autism have found to be TRIED & TRUE in their lives.
Tried & True means: Something that has proven in the past to be effective or reliable. If you have a Tried and True that you would like to share, please send it to us so we can share it through our social media channels, website, newsletters, etc.
Connect with others. Acceptance is an ‘everyone’ conversation and we all have the power and ability to support acceptance. Simply showing that you’re genuinely open and interested in learning more about autism, particularly from autistic people or their family members goes a long way.
Now, more than ever, it is important to recognize the unique strengths, challenges, and experiences of each person with autism and their families. Rather than attempting to paint with a broad brush based on a shared label or diagnosis, instead we encourage everyone to thoughtfully engage and inspire. Have meaningful conversations about what is most supportive for each person, in each setting in that moment, and then do those things! By working together to ensure that everyone is supported, accepted, and included, that’s what inspiring change is about.
This Fall, Attend OCALICONLINE—For Free!
OCALICONLINE returns for a Sweet 16th year, November 15-18, 2022. The premier autism and disabilities conference will once again convene thousands of professionals and parents for four days of learning, discovery, and idea and practice exchange. For the first time ever – and for a limited time – OCALICONLINE registration is free.
“We want everyone to experience the tangible and transformative effects of inspiration into action,” said Shawn Henry, OCALI’s executive director. “And so everyone is invited to register for free April 18-30. Whether you’re a parent, professional, self-advocate, or family member, don’t miss your chance to learn from national and international experts and network with your peers and colleagues from across the nation and around the world.”
OCALICONLINE is held entirely online, which means attendees can join from anywhere in the world – the living room, the backyard, the classroom, the airport, the coffee shop, the carpool lane, or wherever. Last year, participants from 43 states and 8 countries participated, highlighting the fact that OCALICON truly does span across Ohio, the nation, and the world.
With 300+ presenters and partners from around the world, learning sessions highlight content for every age and every milestone across the lifespan. From early childhood to school-age to adulthood, sessions feature the best-of-the-best in their areas of expertise to share research, best practices, and resources that support the lifelong needs of individuals with disabilities and those who live with, love, and support them.
Another OCALICONLINE benefit is the on-demand feature which allows attendees to watch or re-watch content at their own pace and at their own convenience. This option helps support flexible discovery, learning, and development by allowing attendees a chance to experience sessions they might otherwise miss during the live event. The session schedule and information will be posted later this summer. Additional conference details – including CEU and graduate credit information – is available at www.ocalicon.org.
“Free registration to OCALICON is a golden, no-risk opportunity,” said Henry. “We want as many people as possible to attend. But you gotta hurry! The free registration window closes April 30!”
- Free registration is available for a limited time only and is available only until April 30. Standard rates apply beginning May 1.
- Registration includes access to the live event and on-demand recordings.
- Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and graduate credit will be available.
- You will know you have properly completed the registration process when you receive a confirmation email. If you do not receive a confirmation email, this should be a signal that you have missed a step. If you have any trouble with the process, reach out to the conference team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Help us spread the news! A promotional toolkit is available for you to use – just simply copy, paste, and post!
Visit our FAQ page or contact the conference team at email@example.com.
What’s New at OCALI
Tuesdays, 3-4 p.m. in April: ID Early for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Make plans to join the Center for the Young Child at OCALI every Tuesday in April from 3-4 p.m. for a new series, ID Early for Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you’re a professional working with families and young children at risk and/or suspected of ASD, this series is for you. Hosted in partnership with the Center for the Young Child at OCALI and Ohio Early Intervention, this series provides information, resources, and tools professionals can use to help identify autism earlier.
April 21, 4-4:30 p.m.: New InspirED Session
The Earlier the Better: Recognizing Autism in Young Children
The earlier young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are identified, the more opportunity early childhood professionals have to provide services and supports that will benefit children for a lifetime. Gain a deeper understanding of ASD diagnosis and educational eligibility determination, insight into differences in presentation of ASD in boys and girls, and considerations for making decisions about services and supports
April 25: The Journey Webinar Series
Family engagement must be intentional and inclusive. Learn about myths of hard-to-reach families and communication tools to organize and improve your school-home communications in this new webinar.
Summer Braille Courses
Receive FREE graduate credit this summer through Ashland University and the BEST Grant with these summer braille courses
OCALI’s Lending Library Maintenance
Starting April 14, OCALI’s Lending Library system will be updated. During this time, you can continue to browse the library catalog, but items will not be available for checkout until April 28.
50th Episode of 10 Minutes with Barb and Ron
Celebrate the 50th episode of Barb and Ron with us! Congratulations to this fantastic team. Watch now online or check it on our OCALI YouTube channel.