More than 50 years have passed since the first National Autism Awareness month was observed in the United States in April 1970. This month’s events are meant to increase understanding of Autism and promote the inclusion of those who fall within the Autism Spectrum.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological condition that affects how people communicate, socialize, and behave. It is called a “spectrum” because the symptoms and severity of ASD vary widely from person to person. While some people with ASD have mild symptoms and function well in society, others have more severe symptoms and require additional support.
A shift began in recent years, and today the Autism community is calling on all media outlets to shift their messaging from “Autism Awareness Month” to “Autism Acceptance Month” to promote the growing need for acceptance within the community in preparation for any news coverage in the weeks ahead. The HDS Foundation joins a growing group of leading disability organizations across the country in supporting this terminology. This includes raising awareness about the challenges that people with Autism encounter, as well as celebrating their talents and abilities. It also includes advocating for policies and opportunities that support people with Autism and their families, such as education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care, and comprehensive long-term services.
Over the last 14 years, the HDS Foundation has provided programs and service opportunities that promote independent/semi-independent living for teens and young adults with ASD and related abilities. Their programs support developing work and daily living skills and socio-educational transitional experiences through school-based partnerships. The Foundation aims to help this growing population with diverse abilities bridge the gap and support their post-secondary journey, strengthening their chances for meaningful, long-term employment and self-sufficiency.
For the second consecutive year, the HDS Foundation has partnered with Clear Channel Outdoor during April to host a Public Service Campaign. The campaign aims to encourage the community to accept the uniqueness of everyone with Autism and encourages people to be aware, understanding, and kind.
To learn more about the HDS Foundation or to make a donation in support of their mission, please visit hdsfoundation.org.