April is Autism Acceptance Month, celebrating the talents, contributions, and diversity within the autism community. At The Arc, autistic people and their loved ones are a part of our staff, volunteer leaders, and key people guiding our work every day. Their lived experiences are vital, as an estimated 1 in 36 children in the U.S. have autism—reflecting a large yet persistently underserved population.

The big picture: Autistic people deserve to be embraced and valued by our society. Too often, they face misunderstanding, discrimination, and lack of access on all fronts—in education, employment, justice systems, and community life. True inclusion means creating environments where diverse needs are accommodated, allowing people with autism to thrive as their authentic selves.

History and shift to acceptance: The roots of Autism Awareness Month trace back to the Autism Society’s first celebrations in April 1970. In 1988, President Reagan issued the first presidential proclamation for National Autism Awareness Month. The paradigm shifted in 2021 when Autism Awareness Month became Autism Acceptance Month, a powerful reframing putting the emphasis on creating an inclusive society that celebrates autistic people all year long. This evolution moved beyond awareness to dismantling stigmas, fostering respect, and enabling autistic people to fully participate in society as their authentic selves. This shift matters because the language we use holds profound importance in affirming identities and human dignity.

Another note on language: Many in the autism community prefer identity-first language (“autistic person”) over person-first language (“person with autism”). Many autistic people view their autism as an inseparable part of their identity and take pride in who they are.

What we’re doing: The Arc is uplifting the voices and perspectives of autistic people in April and beyond. Learn from two powerful leaders on our national Board of Directors:

Join us in embracing the unique strengths and boundless possibilities within the autism community.

🧡 Donate to The Arc’s life-changing services and advocacy for people with autism.
⭐ Volunteer with your local chapter of The Arc to champion inclusion.
📣 Amplify stories from autistic people by following #ActuallyAutistic and use #AutismAcceptanceMonth to join the conversation.

“True inclusion is ensuring people with autism have every opportunity to live life to the fullest. When we listen deeply and make spaces truly welcoming and inclusive—that’s when everyone can shine brightest.” – Katy Neas, CEO of The Arc

The post Autism Acceptance Month: Celebrate Differences appeared first on The Arc.

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