At CARD-USF we wanted to go beyond an autism awareness campaign. The reality is autism awareness and acceptance should be year round. True acceptance, in our eyes, is rooted in the action of inclusion.
Individuals with autism WANT to be included. Their families WANT them to be included as well. It is important to remember that individuals with autism, and varying disabilities, have needs and goals similar to you and me. However, to achieve success, they need their community and support system to include them.
So what does inclusion look like?
The beauty of inclusion is that it is objective and fluid throughout each person’s life. As people grow and change, their needs for inclusion will change too. For small or school age children, include them in play: birthday parties, organized sports, play dates and school activities that their neuro-typical peers would all experience. As children grow up and become more social they too will seek the social aspects of middle and high school. Make sure to include them in clubs, social outings, celebrations and rites of passage, like prom and graduation.
Adulthood, particularly, inclusion is vital! Everyone, regardless of ability, has the desire to live a life that brings them happiness and purpose. Finding a job that gives them confidence and builds upon skills that they already possess will foster positive self-esteem and allow them to be successful in the workforce. Some may take a bit longer to figure out what it is they want to do; but with guided expertise from resources such as, The Learning Academy Employment Services, they can certainly achieve their goals of employment.
So our question to you- the reader, the parents, the educators, and the community as a whole, what can YOU do to support inclusion?
If so, be sure to like and share our posts for this campaign to highlight the importance of inclusion.