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April is Autism Acceptance Month


YUMA, Ariz (KYMA, KECY) - April is home to Autism Acceptance Month. From April 1 to April 30, people around the world bring light to mental and cognitive disabilities and how we can accept them into society.

In 1972, The Autism Society inaugurated National Autistic Children's Week as means to honor children who were diagnosed with autism.

Fifty years later, however, the Autism Society changed it to Autism Acceptance Month as a way to celebrate and accept not only children diagnosed with autism, but also accept adults who were diagnosed at a later stage in life.

“There's a lot of new-ness when it came to autism. It was something that a lot of people didn't know about. So, it was a journey to try and understand how to treat him. How to help him get going in life," said Kari Tater, a mother to a son with autism.

Every journey comes with challenges.

"Sometimes, even though he's 22, he can kind of go down to 13 to 16-year-old behavior. so, it's really working through that. Helping him identify the emotions because a lot of times, he doesn't know how to express how he feels," Tater explains.

There is a big difference between awareness and acceptance.

"Awareness is being aware of what autism is. That it affects thousands of individuals with autism are individuals just like you and [me]," says Victoria Doiron, Compliance Coordinator for the Yuma School District.

"Acceptance is when we start understanding and accepting them as equals in society. There is no discrimination. We start accepting them fully as an integral part of our society," exclaims Suman Pangasa, Executive director of Student Services for the Yuma School District.

While the differences between awareness and acceptance are apparent, there is still work to be done to shine a light and accept those with autism in Yuma and around the world.

"We do have a lot of collaborative groups in the community, but there is always room for improvement. There is so much more that needs to be done," Pangasa explains.

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Dillon Fuhrman

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