Autism Society of America Kicks Off #CelebrateDifferences Campaign with Freeform’s Cast of ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’

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In its third year, the Autism Society’s #CelebrateDifferences campaign includes a collaborative effort with leading autism organizations to have April officially designated “Autism Acceptance Month.”

Rockville, MD, March 18, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Autism Society of America is kicking-off its annual #CelebrateDifferences campaign in April with two exciting events on Facebook Live. On April 1st, a panel discussion about Autism Acceptance Month will feature autistic self-advocates, Anthony Ianni, Chloe Rothschild and Kris Guin; then on April 2nd, Freeform’s cast of ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’ will lead a discussion on what it means to accept people no matter their differences.

#CelebrateDifferences aims to champion those affected by autism to live full, quality lives through connection and acceptance. This coincides with the Autism Society’s collaborative effort to advocate for a formal federal designation to make April Autism Acceptance Month.

“It’s not enough to know that someone has autism, we need to accept and push for inclusion so that individuals can fully participate in our social fabric,” said Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “Acceptance recognizes the large and diverse community of individuals whose needs must be considered. That’s why we believe that #CelebrateDifferences is so important. It champions individuals with autism and their families to live full, quality lives through connection and acceptance.”

Celebrate Differences

The #CelebrateDifferences campaign will also include a social media call to action for those with autism. #IAmMe asks individuals with autism to share photos, videos and stories showcasing themselves, their passions and their talents to cultivate inclusivity in everyday life.

“Throughout my life, I was always taught to accept others for who they are, and to treat people with kindness and respect,” said Anthony Lanni, a self-advocate from East Lansing, MI, and member of the Autism Society’s Panel of People on the Spectrum of Autism. “It’s time for society to do the same for the autism community and accept our community for our unique strengths, talents, and potential that we bring to the world.”

Today, the Autism Society of America is sharing resources designed to inform and encourage communities to celebrate differences and become more inclusive of individuals with autism in preparation for April. #CelebrateDifferences and #IamMe will run throughout the month across social and digital platforms. These resources will be made available on social media for sharing as well as on the Autism Society’s website for download.

April Events

The celebrations will begin on April 1st with a special announcement from lead sponsor, Make Waves Family Foundation, to kickoff the month. Also on April 1st, the Autism Society will host a panel discussion on Facebook Live with self-advocates across the country who will discuss the importance of acceptance, and how we can build a more inclusive society. On April 2nd, the Autism Society will host a Facebook Live event with the cast of Freeform’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay,” including neuro-diverse actors Kayla Cromer and Lillian Carrier, alongside co-stars, Josh Thomas, Maeve Press and Adam Faison; the cast will celebrate Autism Acceptance Month and offer a sneak peak into Season 2, premiering April 8 at 10 p.m. EDT/PDT.

Event details will be added to the AutismAcceptance.Org in the coming weeks.

Autism Acceptance Month

With the #CelebrateDifferences campaign, the Autism Society of America is also leading a collaborative effort with autism and disability organizations nationwide to advocate to the Biden Administration to formally designate April as Autism Acceptance Month. This is a shift from the commonly used phrase “Autism Awareness Month,” which has never had a formal designation, but has been widely celebrated on a global scale by the autism community. For many national and local autism organizations, ‘acceptance’ has long been in use, in place of awareness. The advocacy effort reflects the need for full inclusion for all members of the autism community.

Autism Society of America’s goal for Autism Acceptance Month is to advance inclusive practices in policy as well as everyday life. Fostering acceptance can ignite change through improved support and opportunities in education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care and comprehensive long-term services and support for those affected by autism.

Learn how you can help #CelebrateDifferences by visiting AutismAcceptance.org.

*Interviews Available*

Christopher Banks, President and CEO of Autism Society of America, and representative families and individuals can be available to answer questions and provide comment. If you’re interested in scheduling an interview, please contact Nathan Wilson at 316-250-2751 or nathanw@strategies360.com.

About the Autism Society of America

The Autism Society is the nation’s oldest leading grassroots autism organization and exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. Annually, the Autism Society and its 75 local affiliates serve over half a million individuals impacted by autism through education, advocacy, information and referral services, support, and providing community inclusion and acceptance at the national, state and local levels. For Autism Acceptance Month in 2021, the Autism Society of America has set a fundraising goal of $200,000 to grow its impact and serve even more people. For more information, go to www.autism-society.org, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

About Freeform

Freeform connects to audiences with bold original programming and immersive social engagement that moves the cultural conversation a little forward. Freeform channels the force and momentum of its young adult audience in its quest for progress with authentic, groundbreaking original series such as “grown-ish,” “The Bold Type,” “Good Trouble,” “Motherland: Fort Salem,” “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay” and “Cruel Summer.” The network also programs tentpole events such as “31 Nights of Halloween,” “Kick Off to Christmas” and “25 Days of Christmas.”

The second season of the half-hour comedy “Everything’s Gonne Be Okay” will premiere Thursday, April 8, at 10:00 p.m. EDT/PDT with two back-to-back episodes. After the series premiere, new episodes will air Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. EDT/PDT.

Background:

  • In the United States, the autism prevalence rate has risen from 1 in 125 children in 2010, to 1 in 54 in 2020.

  • Over 70% of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed – 85% of those with degrees are unemployed.

  • Approximately 1 in 5 young adults with autism spectrum disorder will interact with a police officer before the age of 21. Individuals with disabilities, including those with autism, are five times more likely to be incarcerated than people without disabilities.

  • For children, a recent study found that the average age of an autism spectrum diagnosis can be reduced by 2 years with standardized screenings in pediatric check-ins at 18 and 24 months.

  • The United Nations recognizes April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. This year, the Autism Society of America is suggesting the international community update this day of recognition to be known as Autism Acceptance Day, as we work towards more inclusion and meaningful change.

  • In 1972 the Autism Society of America founded “National Autistic Children’s Week” which has since evolved into a global grassroots movement for April to celebrate Autism Awareness Month.

CONTACT: Nathan Wilson Autism Society of America 3162502751 nathanw@strategies360.com Kristyn Roth Autism Society of America 2408026051 Kroth@Autism-society.org

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