The Autism Society Reminds Everyone to Celebrate Differences for Autism Acceptance Month
This April is Autism Acceptance Month, and the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans reminds everyone that acceptance happens every day.
New Orleans, LA — This April, the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans (ASGNO) is reminding everyone that acceptance happens every day. Autism Acceptance Month kicks off on April 1, and the Autism Society is highlighting the power of acceptance in our daily interactions for those with Autism. For ASGNO, acceptance means more than a designation for the month; it is an act of embracing the different, diverse and unique experiences across the Autism community.
The organization is connecting with Autistic individuals, their families, friends, and support teams with their annual #CelebrateDifferences campaign. The goal of #CelebrateDifferences is to highlight and honor the infinite ways in which people experience life. The campaign aligns with ASGNO’s vision to connect everyone in the Autism community to the support they need, when they need it – no matter how they identify themselves or the diversity of support needs.
“Autism Acceptance Month is a great reminder that acceptance is understanding that one size does not fit all – that we can and should see an individual’s unique needs and work together to advocate for the services and supports that help each person live fully,” said Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “This is what #CelebrateDifferences is all about – recognizing the diversity of the Autism community so that we can create more accessible, quality, support and service options for our community.”
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, with 1 in 36 children receiving a diagnosis. Early diagnosis for children between one and four-years-old has proven to have a significant impact on their lifelong outcomes, as they are fifty times more likely to receive services that support their development through childhood.
There are approximately 5.8 million Autistic adults and another nearly 1.1 million are nearing adulthood in the next few years, effectively aging out of state-funded supports and services. Only about one-third of Autistic adults work in paid jobs for more than 15 hours a week, yet employment plays a pivotal role in transitions to adulthood, independent living, socialization, self-worth and confidence.
The Autism Society and its network of affiliates create impact across the country, and directly within the Greater New Orleans area, to deliver services and supports throughout the lifespan. This includes individualized advice and emotional support through our information and referral program, the opportunity for genuine peer support at our online social and support groups for caregivers and Autistic adults, direct financial support through our mini-grant program, organic social interactions and educational opportunities at our inclusive community events and family outings, and increasing health equity with our Vaccine Education Initiative through provider trainings, inclusive vaccine distributions, and plain language educational materials.
“We are proud to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month here in New Orleans. By embracing the unique strengths and perspectives of Autistic individuals in our community, we can create a more inclusive world.” Said Claire Tibbetts, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans. “This month, we urge local individuals, businesses, and organizations to come together to learn more about Autism, endeavor to create truly inclusive spaces for our neurodiverse neighbors, and work towards ensuring that every Autistic person has access to the support and resources they need to thrive.”
Locally, the Autism Society Greater New Orleans directly served 462 people through their information and referral service in the past year, while 9000 individuals visited their website looking for information and resources. 50 people attended educational events, and 2,600 individuals received accessible educational information on COVID-19 vaccines.
Over 100 providers, students, and community leaders were trained on providing inclusive and accessible vaccination experiences. 268 people attended support groups including Autistic individuals and caregivers. ASGNO also provided direct tangible support to area families and individuals by distributing 300 backpacks filled with free school supplies, 32 free COVID-19 vaccines, and over $11,000 in mini-grants.
Last year, advocates sent 600+ letters to Congress to take action to ban electric shock devices. The Autism Society and partners successfully advocated for critical bills to increase funding and/or supports within the omnibus bill, ABLE Age Adjustment Act, Money Follows the Person, Kevin & Avonte’s Law, and Assistive Technology Act among others. At the state level, ASGNO supports the legislative agenda of LACAN and the LADDC by sharing and responding to action alerts, and contacting legislators. The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans also partnered with the other affiliates in the state to advocate for Governor Edwards to sign a proclamation declaring April Autism Acceptance Month in Louisiana
In the coming year, the Autism Society is investing significantly in its national programs. The organization plans to expand its Vaccine Education Initiative (VEI) to address the unique needs of the Autism community and accessible healthcare; deliver increased first responder trainings with tools and information to serve the Autistic community more safely and effectively for life-saving outcomes; expand employment opportunities and outcomes for Autistic individually addressing systemic barriers to employment; and deepen the organizational focus on health equity to build a robust system of supports, services and resources aimed at the whole living experience. The Autism Society Greater New Orleans was a pilot site for the VEI, and is participating in the program again this year.
Throughout the month of April, the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans will highlight more about these specific initiatives and stories that aim to demonstrate acceptance in action. The Autism Society is encouraging everyone to connect and participate in the #CelebrateDifferences campaign to learn more, share information and personal stories, and join the movement to practice acceptance every day.
About Autism Society of Greater New Orleans
The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans mission is to create connections, empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully. ASGNO is part of the nation’s oldest leading grassroots Autism organization, the Autism Society, and is one of 70+ affiliates which collectively serve over half a million members of the Autism community each year. It envisions a world where everyone in the Autism community is connected to the support they need, when they need it – including education, advocacy efforts, community programming, and supports and services throughout the lifespan. During Autism Acceptance Month, the Autism Society Greater New Orleans has a goal to fundraise $5,000 to expand acceptance in practice for the Autism community. For more information, go to www.asgno.org, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.