World Autism Awareness Day 2016
As part of a long-running awareness campaign launched on World Autism Awareness Day 2016 (April 2nd), Autism-Europe focused on the theme “Respect, Acceptance, Inclusion”. This slogan was selected by its members for a number of reasons which will be outlined in the sections below.
Aims of the campaign
The 2016 campaign aims to shift the focus from mere “awareness” to “acceptance” of autism, and convey a positive and optimistic message about autism. The campaign is also based on the social model of disability and have a strong rights-based approach, recalling the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities to trigger the conditions for an inclusive society.
The theme: “Respect, Acceptance, Inclusion”
One of the biggest barriers faced by people on the autism spectrum often proves to be the discrimination they face. It often stems from a lack of understanding of what it really means to be autistic. Attitudinal barriers, stereotypes and prejudices hamper the participation of autistic people in society. It is time that society gain a better understanding of autism to start removing the barriers that they face to be be included.
Key messages of the campaign
- 1% of the population has autism. Nowadays, many people are aware of autism, but very few actually know what living with autism mean.
One of the greatest barriers faced by persons with autism is the discrimination and lack of understanding they experience in their day-to-day lives.
- Understanding people with autism is the first step towards making society more inclusive and accessible.
Knowing what poses particular difficulties for autistic people when taking part in activities within the community can help people go some way to removing the barriers that isolate them;
- People with autism or Asperger syndrome may appear to behave unusually.
There will generally be a reason for this: it can be an attempt to communicate, or a way of coping with a particular situation. For example, many autistic people have difficulty processing everyday sensory information such as sounds, sights and smells. This is usually called having sensory integration difficulties, or sensory sensitivity. It can have a profound effect on a person's life and trigger unsual reactions.
- People with autism can harbour many skills and talents, the key is knowing how to harness this to allow an autistic person to reach her/his full potential.
People with autism are statistically far more likely to be unemployed than those without autism. However, they have a lot to offer to businesses and to society at large. Some companies are already actively seeking out autistic employees, but the practice is still rare.
- Think about how you can make your community/workplace/school more autism-friendly, and give people with autism the chance to show their true potential.
It often only takes small changes to better accommodate for an autistic person’s needs. For more information on this, see Autism-Europe’s publication “Autism and Work” .
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