Celebrating Autism Acceptance Month

Tyler, a Direct Support Professional (DSP) with autism shares his story

April is Autism Acceptance Month, and we’re celebrating! At AbleLight, we love and celebrate our autistic friends all year long and we’re excited for the opportunity to uplift them even more during this special month.

Acceptance vs. Awareness

Originally, April was known as Autism Awareness Month. Over the years, the disability community has been shifting to “acceptance” over “awareness” for a variety of reasons.

Awareness campaigns are typically tied to diseases, like cancer, or public health issues, like domestic violence. Autism is neither of those things. These campaigns would often portray autism as a problem that needed to be cured, which only creates a negative stigma around autism.

Individuals in the autism community want and deserve to be accepted for who they are. Changing from awareness to acceptance may seem like a subtle distinction, but it’s an important one!

Recognizing autism as unique to every individual

The idea of autism being a linear spectrum with low-functioning at one end and high-functioning at the other end simplifies the autistic experience, and this can be damaging to people’s perception and understanding of autism. These functioning labels often fail to recognize the unique strengths and weaknesses of an autistic individual. People who are considered “low-functioning” can be dismissed or denied opportunities, while those considered “high-functioning” may be denied support services they need.

While there are stereotypes associated with autism, the autism experience is completely unique to every individual. You might meet an autistic person who is comfortable in one-on-one interactions, but who also becomes overwhelmed in busy or noisy situations. This person is neither low- nor high-functioning, they are simply a person who needs more support in some areas than in others.

The autism wheel is a helpful tool that does a great job of visually representing how autism appears in different people.

Tyler’s story

Tyler recently joined our team in Oregon as a Direct Support Professional, and we’re so happy that he did! Tyler has autism and he struggled to find a job for over a year. At AbleLight we know that everyone has unique abilities, and we were excited to have Tyler join the team as a DSP. He’s able to understand the people he works with and provide excellent support for them every day.

The job has been equally rewarding and life-changing for Tyler and the people he works with! “Having a job is amazing, just absolutely amazing,” said Tyler. “This job definitely gives me that feeling of, ‘oh yeah, I did something. I actually helped people.’”

Tyler uses his love of music and the piano to connect with some of the people he supports. He taught Mike, a person he supports, to play part of his favorite song on the piano. Check out Tyler’s full story below!