This month's blog article was featured in the April 2024 issue of our digital newsletter, Aspire Wire. 

By Stephen DeFilippo, PsyD
Associate Manager, Teen and Adult Services

April is a month of celebration, not just for the arrival of spring and the end of it being dark at 4pm, but more significantly for World Autism Month. World Autism Month is a time dedicated to appreciating and celebrating neurodiversity and the experiences of autistic individuals. It can also be a time to reflect on the positive progress that’s been made, and the work that still needs to be done to create a more diverse and equitable society.

In recent years, there has been a shift toward more recognition of neurodiversity – and that neurological differences, including autism, are natural variations of the human brain. This shift has moved our society closer toward being more inclusive of neurodivergent individuals and their voices.

World Autism Month can serve as a platform to amplify these voices and highlight their contributions to society. From artists and musicians to scientists and advocates, neurodiverse individuals have enriched the world with their insights and talents in a variety of ways. Embracing neurodiversity can bring fresh perspectives to problem-solving, challenging conventional thinking and fostering innovation. These approaches can lead to advancements and progress that benefit everyone.

Amidst the celebration this year, it's important to acknowledge the challenges that the neurodivergent community may face in navigating a world designed for neurotypical individuals. Sensory experiences, different styles of social communication, and stigma can present a variety of barriers.

As allies, it's our responsibility to work to ensure that the world continues to become more accessible, inclusive, and supportive for everyone including those who are neurodiverse. This includes integrating a variety of learning styles in education and employment, providing access to appropriate healthcare and support services, and combating stereotypes and misconceptions. It is important to support initiatives that empower folks to achieve their goals in life, whatever they might be.

An important role in continuing to build a more inclusive society is through education. By learning about neurodiversity in schools and communities and highlighting neurodivergent voices, we can continue to create a culture of empathy and respect where differences are valued. Teaching about neurodiversity from a young age cultivates a generation that embraces diversity in all its forms.

As we observe World Autism Month this year, lets also reaffirm our commitment to fostering a world where everyone can thrive, contribute, and belong, and work toward creating a future where neurodiversity is not just accepted but celebrated.