Awareness initiatives are brilliant for the cause they highlight; working with the many special people that we do, Autism Awareness Month means more to us than many others.
But what happens when the clock chimes midnight on April 30 and the focus shifts on to something else?
People with Autism don’t disappear, but many feel as though they have become again invisible. One striking focus during Autism Awareness Month has been the benefit that many people with autism get from taking part in sport.
On April 2, supporters of the National Autism Society NAS in Scotland organised a Bounce for Autism with MPs and other high profile celebrities joining young people, friends and family on hoppers, trampolines and even yoyos. The serious point behind the fun and laughter was that people with Autism often find sports centres in Scotland unwelcoming.
April 2 saw leisure centres, sports centres and other places open for business; that’s brilliant, but let’s not make it a one off, let’s make it an everyday occurrence!
People with Autism, as all vulnerable adults, should be treated in the same way as other members of their local communities. In areas where we have opened uStep models of support, we have worked with our consumers to help them identify their lifetime aspirations, then support them as they work towards their goals.
A common thread is that they all want to be treated the same as everyone else and be part of the communities in which they live with jobs, access to education and taking part in sport, using parks and other sports centres, enjoying the social aspect that their communities offer just like the rest of us, in short contribute and be a part of their community.
Autism Awareness Month is fantastic to draw attention to the condition, the stigma that goes alongside it but the fantastic contribution that people can make. But as May 1st dawns, don’t forget we must all continue to work in the positive progress for people with Autism, not just in April, but every day.