Judson Center Supports Acceptance and Inclusion
Autism Acceptance is front and center throughout April, but at Judson Center, acceptance and inclusion are a foundation for our programming.
When a child or young adults with autism enters services with Autism Connections, they are offered a place where they can come and thrive as their whole neurodivergent selves. One of the core services provided to support this environment is Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA. Our team of certified autism professionals makes sure that every treatment plan is just as unique as the person it’s created for. The therapy provided is rooted in connection, not just correction. It helps our staff look beyond behaviors to identify a client’s unique connection needs.
Some families may be apprehensive about enrolling their child in something involving “therapy”. But, we must remember that ABA is a tool and the thing that matters most is how it’s used. Tools can be used for fixing or tearing down, or they can be used for building up. As Director of Judson Center Autism Connections, Sarah Sorise explains, “Our attitude of embracing autism ensures that we use ABA and other evidence-based tools for building our clients up. Everything we do is centered around their flourishing.”
Sarah continues, “When we choose to see their autism as something to be embraced, not something to be eradicated, we are able to better equip them to communicate their needs and connect with the world in a new way. This approach promotes dignity, fosters inclusion, and helps us walk beside our clients and their families into a new, brighter future.”
Everyone Can Do Something
As we work to support acceptance and foster inclusion for those with autism, we must acknowledge the changes we can make individually. Everyone can do something to make positive changes for individuals in the autistic community. Change starts as we remember that our words, images, thoughts, and actions matter. Check out these practical tips to help you take a step toward embracing autism.
Ways to Embrace Autism
- Language Matters: The words we choose to use can have an impact on others. We should strive to use language that respects the dignity of each member of the autistic community. Person-first language refers to terminology that puts the person ahead of the diagnosis. It aims to frame the diagnosis as something the person “has” rather than something they “are” (ex: “a child with autism). Identity-first language refers to terminology that puts the diagnosis at the forefront and recognizes it as a part of the individual’s story and identity (ex: an autistic child). Either language can be acceptable depending on the setting. A person’s preference should always be the first priority. If you aren’t sure, asking a person’s preference is okay.
- Images Matter: For many years, a puzzle piece has been used as an unofficial symbol for autism. However, most individuals with autism and their advocates oppose the use of this imagery. The puzzle piece image implies that people with autism are missing parts or are incomplete and therefore don’t fit. It is more inclusive to use the newly adopted multi-color infinity sign, which symbolizes diversity, differences, and a spectrum.
- Thoughts Matter: It’s healthy to acknowledge our differences, but we should never see someone as less than us. When connecting with someone on the spectrum, check your thoughts. The way you think about someone greatly influences how you treat them. Push any judgment and stereotypes aside and ask, “What is awesome about them?” or, “What can I learn from them?”
- Actions Matter: Saying we are accepting is important, but we must also back up our words with action. Treat the person with autism just as you would anyone else in your life. Be intentional about including them. It’s good to consider their preferences. But never let autism be a reason someone isn’t included.
To learn more about how you can help embrace autism and foster acceptance, visit our blog Embracing Autism: The Move from Awareness to Autism Acceptance!
By Hannah Gregory