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AIDB Celebrates Autism Acceptance Month

 A group of four students relaxing and laughing at an outdoor table. April is Autism Acceptance Month, a time to embrace and celebrate the diversity of individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Throughout the month, RISE Autism at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB), a program uniquely designed for students and individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Loss, spearheaded various celebrations across the 5 AIDB campuses in Talladega as well as AIDB-North Campus and AIDB’s statewide network of Regional Centers. Themed “See Beyond the Spectrum,” this year’s Autism Acceptance Month celebrations honored the rich diversity and strength within the Autism community. 

“In a speech to The University of Alabama football team, Ernie Johnson shared a message with the team reminding them that their job is ‘not a got-to job’ but an opportunity to contribute to something bigger than themselves. It's an ‘I get to do that’ job. It’s important to be aware of the moments that can make someone's life better and to set aside our own agendas to build upon each other's greatness,” said Wendi Glass, Program Coordinator, RISE Autism. “By embracing this mindset of awareness and acceptance, we cultivate a more supportive and collaborative environment where we all come together as a community to eliminate barriers and transform the lives of those we serve.”

On April 12, RISE Autism partnered with KONA Ice of Calhoun County to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month on the campuses of Alabama School for the Blind, Alabama School for the Deaf, E. H. Gentry Facility, and Helen Keller School of Alabama. Students gathered together to enjoy this delicious break during the school day and celebrate the ASD community. 

During the week of April 15, the AIDB Community honored individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder with RISE Autism’s inaugural Autism Spirit Week. On Magnificent Mind Monday, we celebrated the amazing diversity of our magnificent minds by wearing a fun hat. On Neurodiversity Tuesday, we celebrated the beautiful diversity of the human mind by rocking some vibrant rainbow or tie-dyed clothing. On Chalk it Up Wednesday, we grabbed sidewalk chalk and decorated our campuses with puzzle pieces. In each puzzle piece, students and staff wrote what they were passionate about. On Sensory-Friendly Thursday, we embraced our sensory sensitivities while being cozy and sensory-friendly in our favorite pajamas. And finally, on Light It Up Blue Friday, we wore blue to show our support for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

"When the awareness and understanding of autism is normalized in society, it will minimize the fear and discrimination towards people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” commented Wil Mayfield, father of Grey Mayfield, a student at AIDB’s Helen Keller School of Alabama. “This will improve autistic children's self-acceptance, confidence, and mental health."