What is World Autism Acceptance Week 2023?
World Autism Acceptance Week takes place from 27 March – 2 April 2023. This is an annual event led by the National Autistic Society as part of their campaign to create a world that truly works for autistic people. This includes championing the rights of people with autism, raising funds, and shifting social attitudes.
The importance of acceptance
In the past, the event was known as Autism Awareness Week, as campaigners mainly sought to raise awareness and promote understanding. Now, many people are aware of the condition, but stigma and discrimination still exists.
With this in mind, the event was changed to Autism Acceptance Week, with a greater focus on tackling inequality and promoting inclusion. By learning to recognise the strengths and achievements of those with autism, as well as the challenges, we can ensure that autistic people are truly understood, supported and accepted in their communities.
What is autism?
Autism is not an illness or a disease; rather, it is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people communicate and interact with the world. Autism is a spectrum, which means it affects people in different ways. However, people are generally affected in three key areas: social understanding and communication; sensory processing and integration; flexible thinking, information processing and understanding.
Like everyone, autistic people each have their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and some may require support to help them with certain things. Whilst people with autism experience the world in a different way, this doesn’t mean they cannot live healthy and happy lives and, in many instances, go on to have successful careers.
Currently, one in 100 children in the UK have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Although experts warn that autism can often be difficult to detect, which means there may be many young people in education who are not yet diagnosed. As educators, we know that we do not always need a formal diagnosis in order to identify barriers to learning. When children show signs that they are struggling with social interaction, sensory sensitivities, or information processing, it is vital that we make adjustments to the learning environment to ensure that it meets their needs.
For more support with creating an autism-friendly environment in school, please get in touch with our SEND team, who can carry out a review of your current provision and provide training, interventions and supervision.
How can I get involved with World Autism Acceptance Week?
There are many ways that your school can get involved in World Autism Acceptance Week and raise funds for charities that support the cause. This year’s theme is Colour, reflecting the vibrant diversity of individuals who live with autism spectrum disorder. From games and challenges to sponsored walks, there are lots of ideas to help you get off to a colourful start.
- Rainbow Cake Sale
There’s nothing people love more than cake, so why not organise a cake sale? Spread the word amongst your friends and family to get baking and set up stalls in the school hall. Whether it’s fairy cakes, biscuits, or a classic Victoria sponge, make sure your bakes are decorated with all the colours of the rainbow. If you’re feeling confident, you could even turn the event into a Bake Off competition!
- Art Exhibition
Inspire pupils to get creative in the classroom and make some wonderful art together. Draw inspiration from colourful artists, such as Andy Warhol, Georges Seurat, and Pablo Picasso. When pupils have finished their masterpieces, invite parents to purchase a ticket and take a tour around the exhibit in school.
- Make Your Own Badge
This is another great way to spark children’s imagination and spread the message. Set up a badge making workshop, fully equipped with paper, scissors, colouring pencils and crayons – and don’t forget a badge making machine. Invite pupils to design their own eye-catching badges to promote friendship, equality, and treating people with kindness. Children can then make a donation to turn their designs into a professional badge.
- Guess The Jellybeans
A classic fundraiser activity! We know it’s been done before, but it’s one that children never tire of. Simply fill a jar with jellybeans or another colourful alternative, such as smarties, skittles, or mini eggs. If you’re trying to avoid having sweets in school, then marbles or lego will do. Ask children to make a donation in order to guess how many are in the jar. The one who guesses the closest wins the jar and all its contents!
- Sponsored Walk
A sponsored walk is a fantastic way to raise money for a cause, whilst also encouraging pupils to stay active and explore the local environment. Don’t forget to stick with the theme and remind everyone to wear something bright and colourful. This is a lovely way to bring the school community together.
We hope this blog has provided you with plenty of ideas to promote autism awareness and acceptance in school. Remember to share your activities with us on social media @OneEducation – we can’t wait to see what you get up to!
For more advice and guidance, explore our SEND service to see how we can help you support learners with autism and other special educational needs.