April 1st, 2021
With the arrival of April, so too comes World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Acceptance Month. These are both opportunities to recognize the importance of accepting, and supporting those on the Autism Spectrum in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) so they can reach their full potential as learners and in life beyond school.
World Autism Awareness Day
In 2007, April 2 was designated as World Autism Awareness Day by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to increase autism awareness and acceptance across the globe. In the WRDSB we continue to acknowledge this important day as we strive to gain a better understanding of neurodiversity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and heightened inequalities around the world. People who are on the Autism Spectrum have long faced many of these inequalities, which have only been further compounded by the pandemic. Growing our awareness and understanding of these barriers can help us to better address and dismantle them, to create a more welcoming and inclusive world.
The 2021 World Autism Awareness Day observance, hosted by the UN, will address these issues through a virtual event that will include moderated panel discussions with individuals on the Autism Spectrum who have themselves experienced these challenges.
The event is organized by the UN Department of Global Communications and UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in collaboration with the Specialisterne Foundation.
When: Thursday, April 8 at 10:00 am EST
Where: Register for the UN hosted event
Autism Acceptance Month
First recognized as National Autistic Children’s week in 1972 by the Autism Society, Autism Acceptance Month (AAM) is an opportunity to do more than just spread awareness, it is also a time to promote acceptance and ignite change.
Taking the step from awareness to acceptance is significant, as it symbolizes our collective efforts to improve support and opportunities for those on the Autism Spectrum throughout our school board to community – from education, to employment.
Supporting those on the Autism Spectrum in the WRDSB
In the WRDSB, our focus is to move beyond acceptance to support, to belonging and experiencing success.
Special Education programs range from those that provide support for students in regular classrooms to those offered in congregated classes. In the WRDSB, more than 14,000 students receive some form of Special Education support each year.
Our Special Education staff are dedicated professionals, who strive to help students reach their full potential. Day in, day out, they work to build and reinforce our culture of inclusion, equity, respect, understanding and collaboration.
We don’t do this work alone – it is informed by and in collaboration with our community partners and committees, such as the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). The strength of our Special Education programs is further enhanced through the work of this enthusiastic group of advocates representing associations and organizations supporting students with special needs.