International Autism Acceptance Decade, 2010-2020

Because so many people have said "Why stop with Autism Acceptance Day? Why stop with Autism Acceptance Month, or Year? Why not do a decade, a century?!", we are happy to announce:

International Autism Acceptance Decade, 2010-2020.

International Autism Acceptance Decade- Moving Beyond Awareness- 2010 to 2020

International Autism Acceptance Decade, 2010-2020, is an effort by autistic people to move the conversation about autism from awareness to acceptance. It is a multifaceted effort that will impact on autism advocacy, research, education, media, and culture. Although International Autism Acceptance Decade gets its start here, in order to be truly transformative, the work of many people will be required. This expanded Autism Acceptance initiative grows out of Autism Acceptance Day and Autism Acceptance Month. Those efforts  had their origins in the Autistic community and community of supporters. International Autism Acceptance Decade, 2010-2020 is also created by and led by Autistics. It is our hope that you will join with us to make IAAD a success over the rest of the decade.

Although  we are already in 2013, and three years have gone by, a number of significant advances for Autistic people started at the beginning of the decade.

-At the end of 2009, the autism prevalence rate was said to be 1 in 110. Autistics, responding to an increase in alarmist language, such as that in Autism Speaks' "I Am Autism," redoubled our efforts to make an impact on many levels. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network and GRASP were both instrumental in having the video removed from the Autism Speaks site. ASAN mustered over 60 disability rights organizations to oppose the video and Michael John Carley of GRASP held conversations with key personnel from that organization.

-In 2010, Ari Ne'eman, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, was appointed to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), joining Autistic IACC member Stephen Shore, and adding another important voice to the national dialogue about autism. In the same year, he was appointed as a full member of the National Council on Disability, adding Autistic voices to another federal agency. 

-In 2010, Autistics Speaking Day was started by Corina Becker and Kathryn BjΓΈrnstad. Autistics Speaking Day countered an event that  requested Facebook users to "shut down" communication to "show what it's like to be autistic."  They led autistic bloggers to raise their voices and say that the best way to understand what it’s like to be autistic is to listen to autistic people. Bjornstad and Becker received ASAN's 1st Annual Award for Exceptional Services to the Autistic Community at ASAN's fifth anniversary gala event the following year.

-In 2010, Autism Speaks finally appointed an Autistic person, John Elder Robison, to its Scientific Advisory Board. While Autism Speaks is hardly known for Autism Acceptance, and has even used the phrase "acceptance" to raise funds for a cure for autism, by 2010 the pressure was definitely on, and they had to at least try to appear to be listening to the Autistic community.

-Also in 2010, Temple Grandin's bio-movie came out, reaching a larger audience of people who previously were not aware of autism.


-2011 saw a number of initiatives and a continuation of Autistic voices changing the conversation about us. Autistic activists countered a number of proposals that were developed without us, such as the ICD-9-CM "wandering code," a PBS special that stereotyped autism and Autistic people, getting Cafe Press to consider donations to ASAN or other Autistic-friendly advocacy organizations rather than Autism Speaks.

-2011 saw the first Autism Acceptance Day, which shortly turned into Autism Acceptance Month at the request of people who did not want Autism Acceptance to be one day only!

-An interesting series of dialogues between parents and self-advocates took place at Thinking Person's Guide to Autism (TPGA). Ten days of thoughtful and thought-provoking discussions took place. 


-In 2012, the CDC came out with revised autism prevalence rates of 1 in 88.  People discussed the proposed changes to the autism diagnostic criteria in the new DSM 5. 

-The second annual Autism Acceptance Day and Month event was held and more people got involved. Steve Silberman, the science writer at PLoS Neurotribes, wrote a comprehensive article on Autism Acceptance Day. 

-In response to an alarming series of murders of Autistics, Zoe Gross and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network launched a series of vigils to mourn Autistics and all people with disabilities who have been murdered. 

-Fox News released a graphic video capture of a student at the Judge Rotenberg Center being shocked multiple times, and Occupy JRC  began an aggressive campaign to shut down the Center, which has been likened to Abu Ghraib.

-A number of books written and produced by Autistic people came out. The Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking anthology, edited by Julia Bascom and produced by ASAN, and I Love Being My Own Autistic Self, by Landon Bryce, were two of the books that add to a growing genre of books primarily by and for Autistics.

-2013 has already seen more dedicated efforts to promote Autism Acceptance, with the advent of ASAN's new website, A number of blog and Facebook pages posted series of photographs depicting positive images of Autistics, both children and adults, contining Autistic involvement and impact in research efforts, such as those by Steven Katz and AASPIRE. The rest of this year, and, indeed, the rest of the decade, will usher in permanent changes in the dialogue about autism, and from those changes will come real strides in both Acceptance of Autistics and in practical, real-life efforts to improve services and supports, and societal acceptance of Autistics as we are.


Links, 2010:

Wired Science Interview with Ari Ne'eman

Temple Grandin

Links, 2011: 

Autism Acceptance Day, 2011 Facebook Event

Links, 2012:

CDC Says Autism is 1 in 88

Vigil for George Hodgins and Other Disabled People Murdered by Their Families 

***TRIGGER WARNING Judge Rotenberg Center Torture Video

Links, 2013: