Autism Awareness Month

How to celebrate Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, plus information on what Autism is and what we experience!
"Laughter" by April Marie Mai, Acrylic, and Glitter on Canvas, 24"x24" 2023
"Laughter" by April Marie Mai, Acrylic, and Glitter on Canvas, 24"x24" 2023

Happy Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month!

How can you celebrate?

Support Autistic artists, creators, and business owners.

Recognize the additional labor it takes for us to share. Communication difficulty is a part of Autism, and we have it to varying degrees, but you should assume that it takes us a lot more energy than it does allistic (non-autistic) people. If you enjoy Autistic content and can financially support the creators through tips or subscriptions, do.

Buy items that support Autistic People like shirts and more that are actually designed by Autistic People and that pay us for our work.

Share our words and work on social media and elsewhere. Be sure to use the share buttons and not just take our words.

Hire us, work with us, include us in art shows and whatever else you do. You might have to seek us out, but we’re totally worth it!

Give an Autistic Person a gift card to some place where they can get things like plushies, special lights, headphones, their safe foods and more to make their life a little easier.

It’s important that you support Autistic People in the way that we need, not in a way that harms us. The puzzle piece, Autism $peaks, and light it up blue are all things that were created to frame us as being less than others, and a problem. We’re not less, we’re just different.

If you want to donate, giving directly to an Autistic Person will make the most difference.

If you work for a company that needs a nonprofit to partner with, it needs to be something created by Autistic People with us in charge. Nothing about us without us.

Autism Awareness

Learn about Autism! Autistic traits and experiences are extremely varied and there is no look to Autism. Autism can look like me, your child or even you.

We’re not all going to be the same person as that one Autistic person you know. Timmy is not the template of Autism. We’re different like all other humans. Throw the idea of Autism being a white boy who likes trains out the window. Autistic people exist in every culture and ethnicity. Autistic children grow up and become Autistic adults. How you see us portrayed in media is usually about stereotypes.

No one is a little Autistic. People are either Autistic or they are not. What does vary is the traits. We can be anywhere on the extremes or in between on each trait, and each thing can be in flux because Autism is a dynamic disability.

Some things you might see with Autistic People

Not catching onto the subtext of a conversation.

Having difficulty with interoception (feeling what is going on inside the body, like hunger, pain, etc).

Differences with proprioception (feeling where all the parts of the body are in space). Repetitive behaviors like rocking or stimming.

Monotropic interests (focusing in on and learning a lot about one or a few different topics).

Sensory sensitivity, such as distress with things that don’t bother most people, like tags in clothes, noise, lights, smells, textures, food, etc.

Bottom up thinking

Being bullied by peers and authority.

Autistic meltdowns (a neurological event).

A need to have extra alone time to rest and recharge.

Not speaking, only speaking sometimes, or having difficulty speaking.

Some Autistic people communicate in different ways, like using text to speech, writing things, using an AAC program, gestures, sounds, etc.

Some Autistic people do not have language at all.

How this might play out in real life:

Needing to cut tags out of clothing because they are scratchy

Toe walking

Not feeling hunger

Feeling pain and other things more intensely

Not feeling pain when one should

Feeling physical pain when in emotional pain

Having trouble with ER rooms, waiting, lights, sound, needles, IVs

Being perceived as younger than our age due to our appearance or interests

Hand flapping

Rocking

Stimming

Uncoordinated and different movements

Not speaking

Speaking sometimes

Not being able to identify others’ intentions

Being more honest than most people but not believed

Being a repeated target of abuse

Not knowing when a person or situation is safe or not

Running away from painful stimuli and situations

Self-harm like head hitting or headbanging

Learning that the only way to be safe is to people please

Needing accommodations and supports that others don’t need

Loneliness, depression, isolation, crying, and meltdowns

Hiding Autistic traits

Difficulty making or keeping friends

Difficulty knowing when people are actually one’s friends or not

Difficulty in school

Being labelled “gifted” in school

Not seeing or understanding social hierarchies

Having safe foods we eat often

Restricted diets

Incontinence

Amplified sensory experiences that make it difficult to deal with everyday situations

Hearing electricity in the walls

Bumping into door frames and furniture often

Needing specific instructions

Asking “why?” and “how?” frequently

Asking what people mean when they say things

Not catching onto something others think is obvious

Love for animals

Wanting to learn everything

Feeling different than everyone else

Intellectual disabilities

Good pattern recognition

Difficulty getting or keeping jobs

Job hopping

Inability to work at all (most of us)

Autistic People often experience the extremes of things, and it can be being very sensitive or being not as sensitive to something as others. Don’t just look for us at the extreme you were taught. We each experience things differently, and how we experience each thing can vary from moment to moment. It can be very confusing and overwhelming for us. For me it feels like I’m on a wild flailing carnival ride all the time, just trying to keep up with my needs.

Those are just a few of the potential signs of Autism. Just one is not enough, but if you have a lot of these traits, or your child does, I highly suggest learning more about Autism and considering getting evaluated for it.

We deal with a lot of stigma around Autism. It’s important that you see us as individuals the same way you do anyone else. We all have strengths and we all have challenges.

Did you learn anything from this? Please share what you learned that you didn’t know before in the comments. It helps me know what kind of information is needed and what resonates.

[Image Description:
“Laughter” by April Marie Mai.
A square impasto thick paint acrylic abstract painting with pink, teal, turquoise blue, yellow, orange, metallic gold and metallic white combining in an expressive palette knife movement style that makes little rainbows of different colors. With a little bit of glitter on top. It’s vivacious and inspired by joyful laughter. It feels warm, comforting and joyful
Part of the Color Explosion series.
Acrylic on Canvas, 24″ x 24″ x 1.5″ 2023]

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