We’re bombarded throughout life with messages both implicit and explicit telling us what it is to be ordinary and what is required of us to fit in with the crowd. We’re told what it means to think ordinary, look ordinary, dress ordinary and act ordinary.
The problem about ordinary is that it’s just so … ordinary.
Ordinary is pedestrian. It’s mundane and routine. In a word, ordinary is boring. It’s boring because it lacks excitement, distinctiveness and the individualism that makes something special enough to stand out to be noticed and appreciated. The truth is, it’s those sometimes subtle and sometimes overt differences between us that make us unique and interesting. Ordinary will always fall short because it’s not extraordinary.
April is Autism Acceptance Month, and the Autism Society of America is commemorating the designation with its Celebrate Differences campaign. The campaign is designed to raise awareness about the signs, symptoms and realities of autism, but it is also focused on providing information and resources on how to become more accepting and inclusive of the autism community in everyday life.
Autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to a 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, roughly 1 in 54 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder, and it is four times more common to be diagnosed in boys than girls.
Society’s attitudes toward those on the autism spectrum has drastically shifted in recent decades as awareness has increased about the disorder and new therapies have been created to treat the diagnosis, such as the Autism Recovery Through Synergy (ARTS) program implemented by Dr. Tami Peterson, founder and CEO of the Oxford Recovery Center in Brighton, Michigan. The ARTS program teaches autistic children the behavioral skills that will help them become more successful in their homes, school and communities.
Raised awareness has created a bridge of understanding and the ability to see beyond the dry and clinical stigma of diagnosis to the flesh-and-bone, feeling-and-thinking people behind it — and, more importantly, an understanding of how the members of the autism community are able to play a valued role in the fabric of our society.
That bridge of understanding connects awareness with acceptance. Yet while attitudes have shifted, there are still more steps to take on the journey. It’s part of the reason why more autism advocacy groups are changing April’s designation from Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month.
“While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life,” Christopher Banks, president and CEO of the Autism Society of America, said in a news release. “As many individuals and families affected by autism know, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system.”
At SaveOn, much of our focus is turning the ordinary into the extraordinary for our customers. However, we encourage you to take time this month to recognize the extraordinary all around us every day and help accept and celebrate and our differences by taking part in Autism Acceptance Month. To find more about how you can help, visit the websites of Autism Society of America or Autism Speaks.