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  • Writer's pictureThe Autistic Realm Australia Inc.

WORLD AUTISM APPRECIATION DAY WAAD 2023



When the UN designated April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day at the 17th Plenary Meeting on December 18th 2007, to raise public awareness of Autism, my eldest was six months old. The first WAAD was held in 2008 when I was 36 and 5 months pregnant with my second child.


As an Autistic person with Autistic children, I usually avoid social media on WAAD. I limit any exposure to social media throughout the entire month. To preserve my spoons, I pick up my cricket bat and retreat to a place of safety.


Light it up posts, puzzle pieces, how we should refer to ourselves as a family of Autistics, being spoken over or for us, the well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning advice on what it is to be Autistic, the endless articles on Autistic employment and the 24/7 dissection on anything remotely related to Autism can feel all-consuming and invasive.

But this year, while I am still in my safe place, I have poked my head out a little to test the waters. Whilst there is a mammoth amount of work still to be done, especially around education, justice, employment and health, I can feel the undercurrent of positive change that has been building and gaining momentum.


WAAD 2023 saw the UN partner with The Institute of Neurodiversity (ION) to host a virtual event titled Transformation: Toward a Neuro-Inclusive World for All.


This event featured the contributions made by Autistics globally and their perspectives on home, life and education, music, dance, visual arts, poetry and Autistic perspectives on Neurodiversity at work and policy and advocacy, keynotes and panel sessions.

Having attended many webinars, workshops and conferences over the years and at times being bored or confused or questioning some of the information imparted, watching Autistics from around the globe telling their stories in their way with such passion had me engaged from the get-go. Some Autistics I was familiar with, some I was not, but I hope to connect, learn and collaborate with them in the future.

When you watch these presentations, you will agree with my confusion about why so many people are paying Neurotypicals to present when we have so much diversity and talent, with Autistics often doing it better.

I then turned my attention closer to home and the recent positive things that Australia is doing.

South Australia appointed the first Assistant Minister for Autism, with some Autistic employees rather than unpaid Autistics filling out surveys and submissions.
Australia will develop a National Autism strategy with Autistic people, their families and carers, the Autism sector and researchers.
  • This Strategy will have an Oversight Council with an Autistic Co-Chair who will guide the development of the Strategy as well as four working groups.

    • Social inclusion

    • Economic inclusion

    • Diagnosis, supports and services

    • Health and Mental health (National Roadmap to Improve the Health and Mental Health of Autistic People).

  • The Strategy will consider findings and recommendations from Senate Select Committee on Autism final report to which The Autistic Realm Australia Inc (TARA) submitted and presented. The Senate Select Committee referenced some of TARA's submission in the final report.

  • Identity first Language (IDF) will be used throughout the Strategy, hopefully transposing to education and other sectors.

  • Autism CRC is hosting a series of focus groups and a survey. (This study is funded by the Autism CRC and being undertaken by academics from Griffith University and Curtin University and Dr Wenn Lawson. The project team includes multiple Autistic Neurodivergent researchers.

If you haven't already completed this survey, the link is - https://redcap.link/Haveyoursay


Where previously I had been feeling relatively flat, a bit burnt out, and disillusioned, I was now sensing something that felt like excitement and almost bordered on hope.

So this year, instead of hibernating and waiting for April to be over, I won't be removing myself from social media altogether; I will just be very selective of what messages I receive.




Disclaimer: For this article, I am using the terminology World Autism Appreciation Day as I believe we have moved past awareness, and I refuse to ask for acceptance. This is also to honour the Autistics Advocates who work each year tirelessly to advocate for change and often at a cost to themselves. This is a personal opinion, and each Autistic will have their views.


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