By Julie Diamond, OCT
World Autism Awareness Day is on April 2 this year. Throughout the month of April, Teachers to Go will be shining a spotlight on people on the Spectrum by sharing their stories and accomplishments in the hopes of increasing the understanding and acceptance of people with Autism. What can you do as a parent or teacher to celebrate this month?
1. ‘Light it Up Blue’ or ‘Design Your Flag’: Autism Speaks started a campaign to ‘Light it Up Blue’ encouraging the international community to come together on April 2 to show their support for people with Autism. Join hundreds of thousands of people, landmarks, buildings and homes around the world by using the colour blue. Wear a blue shirt, light up your home with blue lights or make a craft with your child to hang in your window with the colour blue.
Another great organization, and one I’m happy to say I’ve been a volunteer with since 2017, is Autism Ontario. They have chosen their theme this year to be ‘Celebrate the Spectrum’ and have a contest until April 15 called ‘Design Your Flag.’ You can see the details of the contest here.
2. Spread awareness on social media or in your community: Help others understand about Autism by sharing stories others on the Spectrum have shared or share your own. You and your child/student could create a post together as a class to raise awareness in your community. Autism Speaks also discusses the options of fundraising on social media here.
3. Support businesses that are Autism-friendly and/or owned by persons on the Spectrum: The UN declared “Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World” as the theme for World Autism Awareness Day. The transition to adulthood and gaining independence can be a struggle for many young adults on the Spectrum. Check out our post on April 1 to see tagged businesses owned by persons on the Spectrum.
4. Learn more about Autism by researching about persons on the Spectrum: The saying is true that ‘once you’ve met one person on the Spectrum, you’ve met one person on the Spectrum.’ As a teacher and board member with Autism Ontario I’ve met many people on the Spectrum and no two were alike. Each were incredibly unique in their own way. Many also taught me something whether it was offering more consistency, clarity, or a different perspective.
Start learning about Autism by visiting the website of Temple Grandin here who is an American Scientist and prominent speaker on Autism and animal behaviour.
Leave a comment below with ideas of how you’ll be celebrating Autism Awareness Month with your child(ren) or student(s).
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.
Julie Diamond speaking at the OISE conference for Alternative, Innovative and Inspiring Career Paths for Teachers at the University of Toronto.
Jenna Srigley is the administrative assistant/social media co-ordinator at Teachers to Go and offers invaluable insight as a mom of 2 teens.
Fun Fact: Her and Julie (see above) are also sisters :)