Autistic Pride Day

On June 18 every year, organisations around the world celebrate Autistic Pride Day, with events around the world, to persuade neurotypicals, people not on the autism spectrum, that autistic people are unique individuals who should not be seen as cases for treatment and to celebrate the neurodiversity of people and recognise the innate potential in all people, including those on the autism spectrum.

Autistic Pride Day was first celebrated in 2005 by Aspies for Freedom, and it quickly became a global event which is still celebrated widely online. AFF modelled the celebration on the gay pride movement. According to Kabie Brook, the co-founder of Autism Rights Group Highland (ARGH), “the most important thing to note about the day is that it is an autistic community event: it originated from and is still led by autistic people ourselves”, i.e. it is not a day for other charities or organisations to promote themselves or stifle autistic people. The rainbow infinity symbol is used as the symbol of this day, representing “diversity with infinite variations and infinite possibilities. During gay Pride events a rainbow flag is used featuring a white infinity symbol on a tri-colour background. LGBT+ autistic charity Twainbow oversaw the selection and online voting in 2015.

Autistic pride asserts that autistic people have a unique set of characteristics that provide them many rewards and challenges. Although autism is an expression of neurodiversity, some people promoting autistic pride believe that some of the difficulties that they experience are as the result of societal issues. For instance, according to Gareth Nelson, campaigns to gain funding for autism related organizations promote feelings of pity. Researchers and autistic activists have contributed to a shift in attitudes away from the notion that autism is a deviation from the norm that must be treated or cured, and towards the view that autism is a difference rather than a disability. New Scientist magazine released an article entitled “Autistic and proud” on the first Autistic Pride Day that discussed the idea.

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