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How Can Organizations and Businesses Give Autism Acceptance Month the Respect it Deserves?

Building with an autism acceptance logo

At a Glance

In this post, here are some basic tips for getting the ball rolling on honoring Autism Acceptance Month in ways that your organization can be proud of.

For organizations and businesses that do want to put in the effort to celebrate and uplift autistic people, it can be hard to identify a model for success just by looking at what others are doing!

If you are not part of a business or organization, these are some potential qualifications you may look for or expect from organizations and businesses promoting Autism Acceptance Month.

When it comes to days, weeks, or months drawing attention to or celebrating the lives of people who have been historically marginalized, organizations and businesses don’t always have the cleanest record. 


From paying lip service to avoid “getting in trouble” to co-opting imagery to be sold as merchandise, there are plenty of ways to come across as insensitive or opportunistic rather than seeing those times as important and necessary.


When it comes to Autism Acceptance Month, we often do see these types of patterns repeated. 


Some organizations seek to carve out political and air space at the direct expense of autistic people’s voices, while less involved companies might casually support groups that aren’t really seen as allies to the autistic community.


For organizations and businesses that do want to put in the effort to celebrate and uplift autistic people, it can be hard to identify a model for success just by looking at what others are doing! 


Here are some basic tips for getting the ball rolling on honoring Autism Acceptance Month in ways that your organization can be proud of.

1. Seek out the input of autistic people, particularly those involved with your organization.

This one may seem obvious on the surface, but we can’t stress enough how easy it is for organizations to fall into the trap of focusing solely on neurotypical voices this time of year. If you are not making a conscious and continuous effort to ensure that autistic voices are included in your planning process, there is no guarantee that you will ever hear them.


One great place to seek input and guidance is from autistic members of your organization who wish to be involved in such a project. 


Autistic people who are involved in your organization are more likely to understand challenges that may be specific to your organization and can offer the most informed guidance on both topics. 


While not every autistic person is going to want to put in the labor and time for a project like this, ensuring that the door is open for them whenever they wish to offer input and that their input will matter is crucial.


Absent an enthusiastic volunteer, it is also worth considering speaking with an autistic consultant who can at least offer some baseline guidance on meaningful steps your organization can take from wherever you are right now. Speaking of which…

2. If you’re going to do it, make it meaningful.

One of the reasons organizations get backlash about how they celebrate certain months is that they will advertise themselves as caring quite a lot about a particular issue but their tangible actions do not match their words or their branding. 


In other words, they attempt to participate in the celebration without meaningfully advancing the cause.


The lesson here for well-meaning organizations isn't necessarily that something huge has to be done every single year to be ‘worthy’ allies. 


Rather, organizers should make sure that their messaging has a firm anchor in the tangible actions the organization is taking. 


This could mean ushering in needed changes like updating company policy or looking outward to provide aid to groups in need, but the most important thing is that autistic people benefit and had every opportunity to offer input and guide policy on how things would be run.

3. Be aware that this is a fight for agency and rights for autistic people.

This is another one we hope is obvious to many of our readers, but we can’t stress enough that Autism Acceptance Month is a battleground where autistics have had to fight to have their voices heard in the context of a larger battle for the right to live with as much autonomy as possible and as much support as is needed.


As nice as it may be to offer affirmative statements or general positivity, organizations should always be cognizant that autistic people continue to face material and social obstacles to living with the degree of autonomy they prefer. 


Organizations should show a willingness to speak to these kinds of issues and the role they may be able to play in improving the situation. 


Things like workplace discrimination, accommodations, housing, employment, and medical coverage are all issues that an organization could potentially begin to address, even if it is just in house.

Conclusion

We hope this primer offered some helpful basics on how to approach Autism Acceptance Month with the seriousness it deserves and that some paths for action offered some inspiration. 


If you’re interested in learning more about supporting autistic people in the workplace year-round, check out our free toolkit on the topic. 


If you want to share your plans for this coming April or want more content on how businesses and organizations can better support autistic people we would love to hear from you! Just drop us a line at hello@autismgrownup.com. 

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