Melanie Hecker, MPA

This month, April, is Autism Acceptance Month. Autism Acceptance Month’s goal is not only to recognize the struggles autistic people go through in our day-to-day lives, but to also highlight that these struggles are caused by how society is structured rather than any problems with autistic people ourselves. To solve the problems autistic people face without changing anything about ourselves, Autism Acceptance Month promotes changing our society. These changes to society require full inclusion of autistic people in all efforts. 

Best practices for fully including autistic people are:

  • Seeing autistic people as full human beings whose voices matter, including seeing autistic people over the age eighteen as adults
  • Creating and supporting projects that focus on making changes that autistic people are in need of, rather than focusing on the wants of the neurotypical individuals around the person
  • Letting autistic people set the general direction for services, projects, and research
  • Involving autistic people in all aspects of a research and project based work, even allowing for project leadership
  • Taking the input of autistic people seriously, even if it may be uncomfortable to hear
  • Asking autistic people what accommodations they may need to participate in a project and providing those accommodations
  • Avoiding pity, charity, or deficit-based messaging when advertising services or research
  • Remembering that autistic people are the best experts on our lives