As April has now come to a close, I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on this year’s Autism Acceptance Month, which I have been privileged to be a part of as a music therapy intern with The Musical Autist.
First, why choose to celebrate acceptance instead of spreading awareness? Awareness is simply not enough. Being aware does not require of us to change the way we practice, teach, or exist in relation to other human beings. It does not require us to actively examine oppressive systems that are in place in our society and work to deconstruct them. Awareness does not require listening, really listening, to the actual autism experts, whether they communicate with speech, typed words, or behavior. Acceptance requires these things and much more. True acceptance is very hard work.
This April, we had opportunities to participate in several wonderful Autism Acceptance events. On April 9th, we held a Sensory Friendly Concert, featuring the Anne Arundel Community College Jazz Faculty, with special guest Logan Kangas. Before the concert, we were very excited to hold our very first Musical Autist Jam Session, an event led by and for advocates on the spectrum, to “build community through music”. Jam session attendees took turns leading songs, improvising together, and participating in musical games, facilitated by The Musical Autist’s Co-Director, Sunny Cefaratti.
As April comes to an end, it is important that we maintain our commitment to autism acceptance. Here are some great resources to take advantage of as we challenge ourselves to incorporate autism acceptance into our families, communities, schools, and practice as music therapists’ throughout the rest of the year.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Autism Acceptance Month (links to many blogs)
ASAN Pittsburgh’s Book List: Books about autism that are not deficit based, and where to find them (many are written by autistic people).
Autism Women’s Network
Apple’s Autism Acceptance Video