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World Autism Acceptance Week 2024 (April 1st-7th)

Autism acceptance is not merely a week-long observance, but a lifelong commitment to creating a more inclusive and compassionate world for individuals with autism. It serves as a starting point for a broader conversation on true inclusion. It prompts us to ponder whether society is truly aware enough to accept autism and whether we understand the depth of autistic acceptance.


We think we know what autism is. This is because we have been told what autism is by medical professionals, educators, psychologists and others who study autism. Professionals have changed their understanding of autism many times since its first distinct classification by Leo Kanner in 19431.

The official diagnosis of autism was not actually official until the 1970’s, when the the DSM-3 distinguished autism from other psychiatric disorders like childhood onset schizophrenia2. Fast forward 40 years and it is considered to be a neurodevelopment disorder that encompasses a wide array of persistent challenges in social interaction and communication, alongside repetitive behaviours3.


The medical model of disability is a pervasive force in driving narratives around autism. It is the loudest, most influential driver of society’s understanding of autism. It functions as a way to point out individuals that do not fit a prescribed, normal neurodevelopment journey. It shapes society’s understanding of autism, whilst simultaneously dictating how we are treated by those around us.

Acceptance goes beyond mere tolerance; it entails creating an environment where individuals on the autism spectrum feel valued, respected and empowered. It involves fostering a society where differences are accommodated, barriers are dismantled and opportunities for meaningful participation are abundant. Moreover, embracing autism acceptance entails creating inclusive spaces that accommodate diverse needs and preferences.

Autism acceptance for people like me who subscribe to the social model of disability, look at autism as nothing more than a neurological difference, without attributing a negative weighting on any of the symptoms a person with autism has. These differences are now referred to as neurodivergences.

Sonny Jane Wise is an author and lived experience educator. In their book, ‘We’re all Neurodiverse’, Wise discusses how they came to accept their neurological differences by adopting a Neurodiversity Paradigm4.

An Instagram graphic posted by livedexperienceeducator. Shows the Pathology Paradigm versus the  Neurodiversity Paradigm on a black background. Each side has seven points, displayed on pastel coloured backgrounds.

Source: @livedexperienceeducator on Instagrm

My top tips

Engage with people with autism who require different support needs. Solely engaging with information from low support needs people on the sutism spectrum might lead you into an echo chamber, where everyone’s opinions and views align.

I recommend checking out the posts from @getaway_autist_mobile on Instagram. They describe what it means to have higher support needs and require a carer full time. @livedexperienceeducator on Instagram also identifies as having higher needs, as a medium support needs  person with autism.

Instagram graphic posted by getaway_autist_mobile entitled some things to know for autistic folks with lower needs who do not need care providers. The post has 5 points, featured on bright pastel coloured rectangles, on a light blue background.Source: @getaway_autist_mobile on instagram

Two Instagram graphics, side by side, posted by livedexperienceeducator. Both feature white text on a black background, with a rainbow border to the top and bottom. The first reads - Saying Autistic people have high empathy is as much a myth as saying autistic people have no empathy. In fact, the real myth is implying all Autistic people have the same level of empathy. The second reads - It dies a disservice to the Autistic community when we create and reinforce new myths and stereotypes in order to challenge current myths and stereotypes.

Source: @livedexperienceeducator on Instagrm

How AccessAble can help

The AccessAble Detailed Access Guides are a good place to start when you plan to explore somewhere new, in order to see if a venue willt suit your personal accessibility needs. They have detailed descriptions and pictures  of what venues offer with regards to accessibility. The guides include information on things like companion/carer discounts that are particularly handy if you are an autistic person who requires the support of someone else, if a venue has a safe/quiet space available and whether staff have had disability awareness/equality training.


See more from Izzy

@izzydoeswheelies on Instagram

What to read next

Non-Fiction Books By Disabled Voices by Pippa Stacey

A Letter To My Pre-Diagnosed Self by Lydia Wilkins


1 National Autistic Society, 2024. ‘World Autism Acceptance Week 2024’

Rosen NE, Lord C, Volkmar FR. The Diagnosis of Autism: From Kanner to DSM-III to DSM-5 and Beyond. J Autism Dev Disord. 2021 Dec;51(12):4253-4270. doi: 10.1007/s10803-021-04904-1. Epub 2021 Feb 24. PMID: 33624215; PMCID: PMC8531066. 

The World Health Organisation, 2022: ICD-11. 

4 Sonny J. Wise, We’re are all Neurodiverse. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 21 November 2023. ISBN:9781839975790, 1839975792 (p7-8, 2023).

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