Change “Autism Awareness” week to “Autism Acceptance”

Change “Autism Awareness” week to “Autism Acceptance”

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Cameron Ricketts started this petition to Caroline Dinenage MP

I am a high-functioning minor from Bucks, and every year I dread autism awareness week. I have major issues with the name itself, let alone how it is executed.

The reason I am writing this petition is because autism is a mental health condition, but it is not a disorder (in my opinion). Why should autism be something to be “aware” of, like cancer or racism? 99.5% of British people have heard about autism. Awareness, however, often fails to translate to acceptance. Just 16% of autistic people and their families are satisfied with the level of knowledge “neurotypical” people have about ASD. 50% of families with autistic children simply don’t go out for fear of society not understanding their quirks and special needs. On Wednesday of autism awareness week we spend an hour of time doing “activities” about autism. This is nothing more than an opportunity for kids to pull silly faces and make their friends laugh doing degrading impressions of autistic people, who cannot control their tendencies to “stim”. Who cannot control their lack of social skills, and are cast out from society because of it. I have many accepting friends at another school, and when I get the chance to go into town with them everything’s fine. However, my own school is a much different story.

All this is why I believe autism awareness week should be renamed to autism acceptance week. Everyone knows the tag “Autism”, but not many seem to know what it means, or that nothing negative should be associated with it. This is a movement that I have seen all across the community, but I felt I had to do something to try and bring change. Teachers and other related school staff should be given special “ASD training courses”, which would teach both information about both the symptoms of autism and the methods to teach it to neurotypical people who are unaware and unable to understand the struggles that people like me go through every day. A society which understands and accepts my condition only discovered 70 years ago, and only really recognised as a widespread diagnosis for 30, would help dozens of millions across the world who feel repressed, lonely and unable to fit in.

Yes, parliamentary votes are happening every day on Brexit at this time. Yes, the House of Commons has no majority for anything. But that doesn’t mean the improvement of the country and it’s people’s lives has to stop. We may only be 1.25% of the population, but we are still people. Just like you. We may flap our arms about when we get stressed, we may look different to you, but when you get past all that exterior, we are Homo Sapiens. Humans.

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