The South Pasadena Unified School District has 112 students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) listing autism diagnoses. On a larger scale, the Centers for Disease Control and statistics data show that at least one in 44 children has an autism spectrum diagnosis. Almost everyone knows someone with autism, and nearly every classroom at Arroyo Vista Elementary School has someone with autism. So, as we move into April, Autism Awareness Month, what are some ways you can support the autism community?
“The most radical act you can perform as an ally to Autistic people is to accept them exactly as they are and beyond that to celebrate them and their neurotype,” wrote Nancy Doyle, an organizational psychologist specializing in neurodiversity and contributor to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, in her Forbes Magazine article entitled “Autism Acceptance Not Awareness: A Perspective Shift Is Needed.”
Along with a dozen conversations with Autistic students in South Pasadena, this Forbes article has sparked a shift in how some South Pasadenans celebrate Autism Awareness Month. They are moving away from awareness and towards acceptance. Arroyo Vista Elementary School, in particular, has named April as Autism Acceptance Month and has affixed “acceptance” banners at every entrance to the campus that proudly proclaims: “Autism Acceptance April: Be Aware, Be Understanding, Be Accepting, Be an Advocate.”
South Pasadenan parents at Arroyo Vista Elementary School are helping this cause through art, film, and sharing one story at a time.
Meet Audrey—lover of cats, donuts, art, and the color purple. Audrey promotes the importance of understanding autism as a spectrum disorder, shares how her behaviors manifest at school, and offers ways to support her as a friend. Audrey is asking us to accept her just as she is: unique, similar, and worth celebrating since “everyone is different when we’re together.”
To share Audrey's Autism Story, we need financial resources. Our goal is to raise $1,600 (or more for future work) by the end of April to cover the costs to make this important film! In addition, the film will screen at a schoolwide assembly (a 714 student reach) as the kick-off of a month-long series of goal-oriented programming rooted in autism acceptance.
Meet the Team:
Video Production & Editing: Samantha Labrecque, SamSkape Productions Inc.
Writer and Producer: Anna Festa
Writer and Art Coordinator: Greg Wu
Social Impact Coordinators: Amber J., Patti Urzua
Social Impact Support: Noel Mika Bahamón, Victoria Albin Chinn, Cassandra Kaldor, Neb Kassa, Fernanda Loureiro, Esther Mar, Paulo Padilha, Jennie VonCannon