Tuesday 2nd April, Autism Awareness Day can be interrupted in lots of different ways. For me, I think it is an opportunity for the wider public to learn about autism; both people who have small support needs and those who have bigger support needs.

By Robyn Steward

However, for some people within the Autism community awareness is seen as not enough which is why Autism Pride Day (June 18th) was created by Autistic people who feel that awareness day is not enough, and that accepting autistic people is vital. This leads to true inclusion rather than the possibility of just being aware. Expecting autistic people to “act” ( as in theatre) as non-autistic people 24/7 is obviously unmanageable and takes energy away from the person being the best person they can be.

However Autism Awareness Day and month has a greater media profile. The National Autistic Society does an Autism Awareness Week, which gives schools the opportunity to help their pupils and staff learn about autism.

The United Nations in a meeting in January 2008 decided upon April 2nd for World Autism Awareness Day. This means that there are now children who have grown up in a world that has a day that makes people aware of Autism. It is important to bear in mind that it has only been 25 years since people without a learning disability could be officially diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum; so when WAAD was first tabled this diagnosis was only 14 years old! It’s rather wonderful to look back and see how things have changed. The Autism Act was also discussed as a bill in 2008.

It feels amazing to have been part of these changes, of course, there is a lot more to be done for the wider world to see Autism as an everyday part of life.

This WAAD I will be running a music jam at the Wellcome Collection. This is a trial jam but if it works then we will be doing them monthly and they will be open to the public. I am also looking at ways people can be part of the jam from over parts of the country/world with virtual instruments.

Find out more about Robyn here: https://www.robynsteward.com/