You may have noticed that this year we’re celebrating autism a little bit differently, and maybe you’re wondering why! There has been a big push recently to switch up the way autism is viewed, and for good reason. When Autism Awareness month started back in the 1970’s, its intention was to do just that; raise awareness. Autism Speaks was founded in 2005 and became the frontrunner for all advocacy and the official color and symbol of autism became blue and a puzzle piece.
The shift from awareness to acceptance comes from acknowledging that autism is a natural condition. Accepting the beautiful differences, capabilities and ways of thinking is far more important than simply becoming aware of the condition and acknowledging that it exists, or even researching treatments and cures. While autistic children and adults can face some severe challenges, it’s important to note that just because their brains operate in a different way, there isn’t anything “wrong” that needs to be fixed. Highlighting the strengths and amazing qualities that come with neurodivergence of this kind is far more supportive.
The color and symbols surrounding autism have become quite controversial. Depending upon who you connect with, you may get a different opinion about red versus blue and infinity symbol versus puzzle piece. This comes from overall trauma caused by organizations aiming toward curing autism and harmful therapies and thought process that came with it.
In an effort to overshadow the negativity, the Light It Up Red Instead campaign was created. Red was chosen because it represents love, ambition, and respect.
The switch from puzzle pieces to an infinity symbol moves away from the negative campaigns labeling autism as a disease and a burden. The infinity symbol represents all neurodivergence and the entire spectrum, viewing the autism spectrum as a result of natural variations in the human brain rather than a “disease” to be cured.
While not all autistic children and adults feel strongly either way, it’s important to listen to those that are a part of the autistic community. The goals of autism acceptance are a greater acceptance of autistic behaviors, improving quality of life rather than masking behaviors or mimicking neurological individuals to fit in, equal employment opportunities, access to resources and support, and a shift away from trying treat or cure autism. Moving away from the negativity from the past helps get one step closer.
Parent Connection Coordinator
Infant Nursery Supervisor