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2022 Autism Acceptance Month Affiliate Blog

Autism Acceptance Month kicks off on April 1st and the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans invites you to #CelebrateDifferences with us to recognize the multitude of experiences within the Autism community. 

Throughout April, the Autism Society invites Autistic individuals, their families and friends to honor their wide range of experiences by taking time to share stories on social media through the #CelebrateDifferences hashtag. No family or individual’s story is the same as any other, and the Autism Society believes the world should recognize the infinite ways the Autism community experiences life.

In sharing our unique stories, we are able to highlight the need for acceptance, inclusion and connections that support people on the Autism spectrum throughout life’s journey. 

We believe that acceptance is creating a world where everyone in the Autism community is connected to the support they need, when they need it. And by everyone, we mean every unique individual: the implacable, inimitable, and irreplaceable you.

From Autistic individuals who require 24/7 lifetime support services and their caregivers, to Autistic self-advocates living fully independent lives, acceptance, inclusion and connection are critical to ensuring everyone in the Autism community can access what they need to live to their fullest.

These values can be put into practice in a number of ways. 

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ida, our staff at the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans worked tirelessly to ensure that Autistic individuals and their families who were impacted by the storm had the support and resources they needed.  We ran a grant program that distributed $10,000 directly to families and individuals within 48 hours after the storm to fund the purchase of essential supplies, or evacuation costs before any other financial support was available.  

Our Administrative Manager Claire Tibbetts also ran our helpline via text message to assist families remaining in the area with limited communication ability.  She assisted individuals in finding gasoline for generators, food distributions, camp stoves, financial resources, and prescription medications.  The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans also arranged for food and water deliveries directly to Autistic individuals and families who were unable to travel to distribution sites around the city through a partnership with NOLA Ready.  These food distributions provided needed supplies to improve outcomes and keep individuals safe during the aftermath of the storm.  

“I was so surprised to have food brought to me, I’m not used to being taken care of, it’s new for me.  Thank you so much for everything you guys do, it feels like love, so thank you.” -Nancy, Autistic adult.

“The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans was one of the first community organizations to reach out and communicate the need for home food deliveries to the community members they serve. Without the vital role the Autism Society plays in the community, the city and its partners would not have been able to connect with, locate, and coordinate delivery to people who, for one reason or another, needed better access to food services after Hurricane Ida.” Peter Edmondson, NOLA Ready

“It was absolutely devastating to hear the stories from those individuals who had to remain in the city during the storm because they were unable to evacuate who reached out to us for help.  I knew on the Monday after the storm that we had to do something, so I texted our board members and we very quickly were able to approve the grant program and create the application. I truly believe in our mission, and in the importance of our work to connect everyone to the support they need when they need it whether that is in an emergency, or just every day.  I strive to provide the utmost care and highest quality of support to everyone who contacts us for help.”  Claire Tibbetts, Administrative Manager, Autism Society of Greater New Orleans.

Because of our quick action and tireless effort, we were able to provide targeted support appropriate to the unique needs of each individual for over 50 households in the area in the week after the storm.

At the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans, everyday is Autism Acceptance Day. Our work is dedicated to all those in the Autism community with the supports, services, resources, advocacy and connections that empower people to live to their fullest.  

This April, we’ll be sharing stories, information and resources that can help everyone discover how they can be the connection. Join the Autism Society during Autism Acceptance Month to #CelebrateDifferences. Together, we can create the connections that empower everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully. 

Get involved this month by sharing our social media posts, hosting a Facebook fundraiser for our organization, donating directly to support our programs, or downloading and sharing our educational materials with your friends, family, coworkers, and local businesses.  

AAM_WhatisAutism_Flyer-Digital

AAM_WhatIsAutism_Infographic-Digital

Cassandra Wordcraft

Autism Society Greater New Orleans brand launch blog.

For far too long, individuals living on the Autism spectrum have been categorized, labeled and placed into diagnostic boxes. But life experiences are far more complex, and the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans embraces the infinite ways in which people live their lives. In service of those unique experiences, the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans has undergone a major rebranding effort.

The Autism Society Of Greater New Orleans is proud and excited to advance our mission to create connections, empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully. Our vision is to create a world where everyone in the Autism community is connected to the support they need, when they need it. We do this while embodying our values of Dignity, Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Integrity

Our manifesto.

Because the experience of Autism is not one thing. Because it is many 

things. And because the connection between those experiences is you.

Because we see you. The way you think. The dreams you hold. The talents you bring. Because you can’t be categorized into neat little diagnostic boxes. Because you break the mold. 

 Because sometimes you’re quiet. Because sometimes you need help reaching for where you belong. Because sometimes what happens is not always right or fair or just. Because there are keys to every door that looks locked.

 Because no matter how you were born, the person you are is infinite—and you are the only you there is. 

 Because Autism is just one part of who you are and the potential you hold.

The Autism Society, the connection is you.™  

The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans aims to foster connections within the Autism community. Connections to resources, information, services, opportunities, and of course, to each other. Our brand reflects the experiences, needs, and diversity of the Autism community, including Autistic individuals, their families, friends, caregivers, and professionals in Autism-related fields. Whether you are a parent looking for a support group, or a self-advocate looking for ways to impact policy in your community, the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans knows that The Connection is You™.

 

The process.

From the beginning of the brand process, the Autism Society set out to create a space that was fully inclusive, accepting, and a diverse representation of all those we serve. To do this, the Autism Society of America partnered with Watson Creative to develop a brand that would serve the Autism community into the future.

Creating this new brand was intentionally developed with the Autism community. Over the course of a year, 150 individuals in the community participated in the brand development process; This includes Autistic self-advocates across the spectrum, parents, siblings and caregivers to Autistic individuals at all life stages, professionals and researchers in the field, and many leaders within the Autism Society’s affiliate network. The significant number of participants helped shape a brand from early research to final delivery of the look, feel, and tone you are experiencing today. 

“In our conversations with members of the Autism community, the one thing that kept repeating was a sense of disconnection – disconnected to opportunities, to basic needs, it was universal,” Said Mr. Watson. “So, connection was the universal response to these disconnected experiences.” 

 

Through interviews, focus groups, and participation from advisory councils, our new brand was developed as an inclusive space to all. In fact, every element of the brand was designed to create a beautiful, functional space so that those seeking resources could easily access information without visual, auditory or other sensory barriers.

The brand.

The new brand includes an inclusive color system, “threads” that visually tie in our story of connection with line fluidity that helps create a calm, visual stimulation. In addition, our portrait photography authentically captures people within the Autism community, amplifying true representation in the brand’s visual components. The new logo weaves the colors and threads to create a visual that represents individuality and unique experiences that are simultaneously interconnected and woven into the greater Autism community.

Additionally, we are intentionally capitalizing Autism. The Autism Society believes the shift to a capital A is a broader representation of a culture, identity and diverse neurotype – as well as the disorder itself. It can improve understanding of the diverse needs and perspectives within the Autism community, leading to increased access, inclusion, and meaningful support for people with Autism and their loved ones in our society.

We know that the people who live in the Greater New Orleans area connect through celebrations, storytelling, and art.  The variety of colors in the brand remind us of the beauty of our city and its people.  New Orleans is a place of bold colors, loud celebrations, and joyful community, but often, individuals and families in the Autism community are left on the sidelines as the celebration goes past.  We are dedicated to weaving ever more connections between the members of our community so everyone has access to the support they need, when they need it, and can join in celebrating their own lives, and the lives of their loved ones in a fully inclusive, equitable, and diverse community.

Our work. 

The accessibility of the new brand means those seeking information can easily connect with resources such as our national helpline, information from specialists, and a nationwide network of affiliates with local and regional connections that can help. Our affiliate, The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans, also offers hyper-local resources and support such as our information and referral program, our virtual social and support groups, our mini-grant program, and our inclusive community events.  We also work to act quickly when we can to fulfill the emergent needs of our community such as when we distributed $10,000 in direct grants 48 hours after Hurricane Ida to assist families in the immediate aftermath of the disaster before any other financial assistance was available.

Beyond resources, the Autism Society is also a leader in advocacy for more inclusive policies and practices that benefit Autistic individuals. These efforts include advocating for equitable access to education and supports, employment, housing, health care, long-term support and services, and law enforcement and first-responder training. 

Because representation in advocacy is so important, another benefit of the Autism Society’s new brand is that it centers Autistic individuals and their loved ones in visual storytelling – connecting people to policy. This helps amplify neurodivergent voices and members of the Autism community in advocating for nuanced and inclusive policies that can serve a diverse set of needs. 

The Autism Society has relied on the same brand for over 20 years. We are grateful for the brand that served our community so well for so long. More than that, we are grateful to you for being a connection that serves our whole community. Now, it is time to embrace the future of inclusivity, acceptance and connection for the Autism community. That future is you, because the Connection is You™. 

Curious about the brand? Check out our FAQs for more information!

Hurricane Ida disaster resources.

FEMA individual disaster Assistance already available for Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafource, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Tammany, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebone, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana
Survivors Can register for federal disaster assistance by either
-Call: 1-800-621-3362; TTY: 800-242-7585
-Through FEMA Mobile App
Call center registration hours are 7 days a week from 7 am-1 am ET 6 am-12am CT
Incident Period for Ida begins August 26th 2021 and is currently ongoing.

July 2021 Toolkit: Strengthen Family Bonds

 

Our July Toolkit focuses on focuses on strengthening family bonds, inclusive summer activities, and back-to-school prep; additionally, we’ll continue emphasizing COVID-19 vaccination information and general COVID-19 support. Our policy resources review schools reopening and rights for students with 504s and IEPs, the Keeping All Students Safe Act, long-term care serving individuals with intellectual disabilities, and the State Advocacy Toolkit to advocate for COVID-19 funding for targeted programs.

Strengthening Family Bonds

Inclusive Summer Activities

Back-To-School Prep

COVID-19 Resources

Policy Resources

The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans is here to support you with our Information and Referral Program.  Email us at info@asgno.org or call our voicemail system at 504-603-6548 and we will return your inquiry.

The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all affected by autism. $20 allows the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans to offer one hour of information and referral services to our community.  Donate Now!

Autism Society of Greater New Orleans continues to #CelebrateDifferences and Advocates for April to be Federally Designated Autism Acceptance Month

 

HEADLINE: Autism Society of Greater New Orleans continues to #CelebrateDifferences and Advocates for April to be Federally Designated Autism Acceptance Month

SUB-HEADER: Autism Society of Greater New Orleans builds an inclusive society for the autism community to live fully through connection and acceptance.

March 18, Metairie, LA – This April, The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans celebrates differences as it works to build an inclusive society where individuals with autism live fully through connection and acceptance. The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans is advocating for lawmakers to federally and globally designate April as Autism Acceptance Month (AAM), a shift from the commonly used phrase “Autism Awareness Month.” They have successfully advocated alongside the other Autism Society affiliates of Louisiana for Governor Edwards to issue a proclamation declaring April to be Autism Acceptance Month in Louisiana.

“While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter — the need for acceptance is greater than ever, as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life,” states Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “Many individuals and organizations recognize April as “Autism Acceptance Month” and we hope that our advocacy efforts can officially designate April as such, and create language consistency across this community.”

This name change will build momentum around the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans mission for communities to be more aware of autism, promote acceptance, and to become more inclusive in everyday life. Designed to build awareness of the realities of autism, #CelebrateDifferences encourages autistic individuals and their families to live full, quality lives through connection and acceptance. #IAmMe is introduced to empower autistic individuals by highlighting strengths. The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans challenges its audience to share photos of themselves doing a favorite activity, to showcase pride and promote acceptance. 

“Progress towards fostering a culture of acceptance begins with each member of our community accepting autistic individuals for who they are. When we do not practice acceptance, we send the message that the individual is not valued.” Says Dr. Lisa Settles, Psy. D., President of the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans. “Fostering acceptance in our community is critically important to improving opportunities in education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care and comprehensive long-term services and supports.”

In the United States, the autism prevalence rate has risen from 1 in 125 children in 2010, to 1 in 54 in 2021–recognizing this continued increase, The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans’ goal for AAM is to further increase awareness about autism signs, symptoms and opportunities through: information and referrals, events, printable and digital resources, and community partnerships. Awareness leads to acceptance, which is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system throughout the lifespan.

As stated by their President Dr. Settles, the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans understands the importance of fostering acceptance to ignite change through improved support and opportunities in education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care and comprehensive long-term services and supports. 

Throughout the month of April, the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans will share resources designed to inform and encourage communities to celebrate differences, and become more inclusive of individuals with autism. The campaign will overlap with World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd, and continue throughout the month. These resources will be made available on social media for sharing as well as on www.asgno.org for download.

Learn how you can #CelebrateDifferences by visiting www.asgno.org to learn more.

# # #

The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans is dedicated to improving the lives of autistic individuals, their families, and all those who serve them in the Greater New Orleans area.  They provide free information and referral services, free virtual support and social groups, and educational information.  All funds donated to ASGNO stay in the GNO area to support their programs.

ASGNO Launches New Programs in Response to COVID-19

The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans is dedicated to improving the lives of all affected by autism. To further this mission during the global crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, ASGNO is offering a variety of virtual programs and resources aimed to decrease feelings of isolation, boredom, and stress for the families in our area. We are working diligently to expand what we are able to offer during this time, so check back frequently!

Click here to see more information about our new programs

Autism Prevalence Rate Increase

The CDC has published their Biennial Autism Prevalence Report and has yet again increased the prevalence rate from 1 in 59 to 1 in 54 children diagnosed with ASD each year.  It is still unclear if the increase is due to an increased risk of developing ASD, or if it is due to an increase in awareness and diagnosis.  Learn more in this article by the Autism Society of America.

Regardless of the reasons underlying the consistent increase in autism prevalence in the US, it is vital that we continue our work to create communities that are inclusive, accommodating, and accepting of individuals with autism.  The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans is committed to furthering our mission to improve the lives of all affected by autism.

Adaptive Swim Lesson Guide for GNO Area!

Having the skills and ability to swim is both fun AND important for safety!  Many conventional swim lesson programs are not appropriate for individuals on the Autism Spectrum.  ASGNO has compiled a list of all of the adaptive swim lesson programs suitable for individuals on the Autism Spectrum in the GNO area.  CLICK HERE to see the list!  If you have any questions,comments,concerns, or a program to add to this list please email us at info@asgno.org!

 

Amazon Smile

Do you shop on Amazon.com? If so, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of all eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans when you shop at AmazonSmile. Just go to smile.amazon.com or click the banner below and simply log into your Amazon account. Then shop AND support the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans at the same time!

About Amazon Smile. AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers.

Autism on the Seas

Use Discount Code ND-095 when booking a cruise with Autism on the Seas (AotS) and they will make a donation on your behalf to the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans (ASGNO)! And each family that uses the Donation Code will receive a $25 Onboard Credit for use during their cruise!

Book a 5 night (or longer) cruise and AotS will donate $100 to ASGNO. Book a 2-4 night cruise and AotS will donate $50 to ASGNO. All you have to do is use Discount Code ND-095 when booking your cruise. Donations will apply only to guests who have not cruised with Autism on the Seas in the past. Visit their website at www.AutismOnTheSeas.com for pricing, availability, and additional information.