- Ann Arbor Public Schools
- Superintendent's Messages
April 24, 2023 - Autism Acceptance Month
Every April, the Autism Society works to celebrate, bring awareness to and promote understanding and acceptance of those in the Autism community. Every year, this month-long recognition aims to break the stigma of people living with autism.
The Autism Society is the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization with a mission to create connections, empowering all in the Autism community with the resources needed to live a full and rich life. Founded in 1965, the Autism Society began a national awareness campaign in 1972 called National Autistic Children’s Week. This later evolved into designating April as Autism Awareness Month, and in 2021, it was renamed Autism Acceptance Month to foster acceptance and influence meaningful change in support of the Autism community.
“While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life,” shares Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. The shift in the use of terminology aims to foster acceptance “to ignite change through improved support and opportunities in education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care and comprehensive long-term services.”
As many individuals and families affected by autism understand, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to developing a strong support system. Acceptance and inclusion are vital to making certain that all in the Autism community can access the resources and support they need to live their lives to the fullest extent possible.
During this Autism Awareness month, we were grateful for the opportunity provided by the AAPS Office of Special Education to screen the film Swim Team on April 13, 2023, and participate in a discussion afterward with the film director. The movie is the real-life inspiring story of teens with autism who form a competitive swim team. Following the event, we are also able to share the movie internally; teachers and teams across our AAPS schools have the opportunity to use lesson plans and a classroom discussion guide created by PBS to share with our students. The movie Swim Team is also available via Netflix for those who are interested in this opportunity.
As an additional highlight, among other events occurring across the AAPS, the Lakewood school community has shared some of their activities in support of Autism Acceptance Month. They are wearing red, reading books and having conversations with students regarding autism acceptance that have produced some beautiful examples of inclusive art. Lakewood Teacher Consultant Kate Leite and Social Worker Madia Divirgilio combined their efforts on a project culminating with a bulletin board showcasing some of our beautiful Lakewood students. Many thanks to Kindergarten Teacher Marissa Kaucheck and her class for sharing some of their delightful artwork.
We are a stronger school community as we honor, embrace and celebrate our diversity, continually create a culture of belonging for all and value the connections that unite us as an inclusive Ann Arbor community.
Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools