Autism Acceptance Events and Their History

United Nations logo
by Meg Evans


The United Nations designated April 2, 2008, as World Autism Day to raise awareness of the need to improve education, career opportunities, and community services and supports for Autistic individuals. Public attention had been drawn to the issue in 2006 when The Autism Acceptance Project presented a series of lectures, exhibitions and events titled The Joy of Autism: Redefining Ability And Quality of Life.

In April 2009, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proclaimed, “I welcome this growing international chorus of voices calling for action to enable children and persons with autism to lead full and meaningful lives. This is not a far-off dream; it is a reality that can be attained by promoting positive perceptions about autism as well as a greater social understanding.”

Paula C. Durbin-Westby, who wanted a corrective to the negative images of autism that have been prevalent in many autism “awareness” media pieces and events during April, organized the first Autism Acceptance Day celebration on April 1, 2011. She wrote that it was pro-neurodiversity, pro-supports and services, against “cures” and not about fundraising or other agendas. Autism Acceptance Day and Autism Acceptance Month quickly became popular in the Autistic community as participants spread the word through Facebook and other media.

A growing number of organizations and disability rights advocates now participate in Autism Acceptance Day and Autism Acceptance Month observances, which highlight both social acceptance of Autistic people and the need for appropriate supports to enable full participation in the community. Autistic advocates have taken the lead in bringing about this much-needed cultural shift by working for systems change and by sharing our stories and perspectives, not only during the April events but also throughout the year.

Additional Links:

The Autism Acceptance Project:
Autism Acceptance Day Blog:
Facebook Group:!/groups/109054042508075
Facebook Community:
Facebook 2012 Event:!/events/307262445978535
News Article: