World Autism Awareness Day, WAAD, will be celebrated on April 2nd, 2023.
Like many days that recognise and appreciate people’s differences, I find that WAAD is often brushed aside. It can be easy or convenient to ignore a cause if it doesn’t directly affect you. As a university student, I find myself constantly crunched for time. However, this is no excuse for apathy and inaction. Even small acts can make a difference.
Autism awareness hits close to home for me. My youngest brother was diagnosed with autism at a young age. I’ve grown up seeing the trials and tribulations that come with being or caring for a person on the spectrum. Resources, accommodation, and patience are just some of the things autistic people and/or their guardians, in many situations, have to beg for. You would think that in 2023 autistic people would have easy and timely access to the resources they need to thrive. For many people, this is not the case.
People with autism deserve the same respect and compassion as anybody else. There’s no better time than this World Autism Awareness Day to help create a more accepting and supportive environment for our friends on the spectrum!
Here’s what you can (and should) do this WAAD:
- Get Educated
A common misconception is that autism presents itself in the same ways and to the same degree in every person with a diagnosis. However, autism is a spectrum, and the experiences of autistic people can be drastically different. Take some time to learn about autism from reliable sources, such as the CDC.
- Volunteer and Advocate
Many regions across North America have organizations that provide support to those with autism. Learning and living support can make a substantial difference to the health and happiness of people on the spectrum. It’s important to research an organization before you get involved with them to ensure its interest is genuinely helping those with autism. It’s also important to keep in mind that programs can be inadequate. Cindy Tran’s article “Why parents of some Ontario adults with severe autism say they’re ‘terrified’ for their futures” directly addresses the “growing need [for] advocates” because of autism support system inadequacies.
- Attend Local Events
Though there may not be WAAD events in every region, many larger cities host walks to raise awareness for autism. Check out what’s going on in your area on April 2nd! Or better yet, see what you can do to make an event for World Autism Awareness Day happen! Although I couldn’t find any events in Windsor, you can check out the Autism Ontario event page to see what’s going on in other areas of Ontario.
- Spread the Word
Create a social media post about what you’ve learned, where you’ve volunteered, and the events you’ve attended this WAAD. Talk to your friends and family about how you can be more supportive and accepting of people with autism in your community. Something as little as starting the conversation can help to destigmatize autism. Shying away from these conversations sends the message that it’s okay to be selfish and close-minded.