Let the Light in this April
Autism awareness is largely focused on prevalence rates and the challenges and characteristics associated with ASD, which are often framed exclusively in a negative light. Unfortunately, this common awareness angle is amplified throughout the month of April - 'National Autism Awareness Month' - and perpetuates damaging perceptions and fear around autism. What we typically don't hear about is the person behind the diagnosis, the stigmas they face and most importantly, the strengths and capabilities of autistic individuals and messaging that promotes the acceptance of differences.
To replace much of the negative autism messaging that will infiltrate social media throughout April, the Golden Hat Foundation and Specialisterne Canada* are collaborating on a project to shine a positive light on autism and encourage people to follow the 'Golden Rule' to treat others how they wish to be treated. Our goal is to infuse social media (Twitter and Facebook) throughout the month with imagery and words around autism that promote positivity, determination, and enlightenment using the colors gold and yellow.
We invite you to contribute to this initiative by tweeting your own representation of autism through a positive and strengths focused lens using art, photographs, video, blog posts, or simply by spreading the word. We'd like the hashtag #autism to appear with positive messaging as much as we possibly can every day of April, and every day after that!
When you post, use a combination of these hashtags: #autistic #autism #GoldenRuleofAutism
Here are a couple of examples of projects that shine a positive light on autism:
1. The Golden Hat Foundation developed a powerful public service announcement designed to depict autism in a new way. Featured in the video are individuals on the autism spectrum who speak out and illustrate that they too are sentient human beings who deserve respect and the opportunity to thrive. We would like for this video to counteract some of the negative PSAs and videos we will undoubtedly encounter. You can view and share the video here.
2. This month we are honored to feature a guest blog post entitled 'Awareness to Acceptance: It's a Process' authored by Renée Salas - a writer, blogger, public speaker and disability rights activist. Being Autistic and a parent of Autistic children, her main focus is neurodiversity with an emphasis on autism. To read the post, click here.
*Specialisterne Canada is a not-for-profit organization with a goal of enabling 10,000 meaningful jobs and career paths for people on the autism spectrum. They're part of global initiative of enabling one million jobs. Originally founded in Denmark, by Thorkil Sonne, Specialisterne now operates in eleven other countries around the world. Their focus is to change the employment landscape by helping businesses to recognize, value and integrate autistic talent into their workforce.