Autism Acceptance Month; How SMHS Students Can Stay Educated and Aware


Friday Lunchtime Activities in the Quad

By Kasi Khathuria

April is Autism Acceptance Month. This month’s goal is to teach people how they can be more accepting, aware, and accommodating toward the autistic community. SMHS is hosting activities in the Quad as well as educating students and staff on what autism is.

What is autism? Autism is different for each individual. The autistic community emphasizes the idea of a spectrum, meaning there is no one type or one effect. It’s a disability which can impact how people communicate and socialize. There is no true cure for autism which makes it a lifelong condition. “Autism is an extremely varied disorder that presents itself differently in every individual. There are not nearly enough resources backed by autistic people out there. Most information about autism comes from allistic people looking at the disorder from a perspective they will never experience. It’s critical to learn from autistic people about autism to ensure that the information you’re getting is credible and accurate,” said an anonymous SMHS student. 

Autism is obviously very relevant in our society, affecting 1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls in the United States (according to The Autism Community in Action). Girls are also often misdiagnosed, meaning that there are more females that could have autism, it’s just not recorded (Child Mind Institute). Even though many students are not a part of the autistic community, it’s just as important to stay aware and knowledgeable about autism. “I feel like if people understood what autism was and have more education on it from reliable sources, we can create a more understanding and accepting environment on campus,” said senior Reese Frickman. Both Frickman and senior Chanel Davis expressed that they feel awareness is key to seeing a change in how students view autistic people. 

Not every student knows all there is about the autistic community, but SMHS students and staff are hoping to change this. This month, SMHS students apart of the autistic community, along with seniors Chanel Davis and Reese Frickman are putting on a few lunchtime activities to encourage engagement. On the first Friday of April, they had musical chairs out in the Quad at lunch. On April 22, they had a few different stations where students could build legos, color, and bond with other SMHS students. ASB also put on Knights Ball, which is a dance exclusively for special needs students. The ball was formal, like a prom, and hopefully was a great experience for everyone involved. Along with these activities, you may notice the red and gold infinity signs on our campus windows and walls. The autistic community is using infinity signs to represent how the condition does not keep them from exploring new opportunities and possibilities. “The infinity symbol is a much newer symbol made to eventually replace the puzzle piece, it represents the full spectrum of autism and how autism is infinite,” said an anonymous SMHS student. There will also be a “red-out” day on April 28, to show awareness and represent one of the many colors associated with autism. SMHS students who are apart of the autistic community, along with Davis and Frickman will be making an appearance on the Knights News Broadcast to share information and infographics as well. 

“Autistic people are people just like anyone else. We are smart and capable. We simply function in different ways from non-autistic people. Autism doesn’t make us bad at anything, it simply makes us different. Autistic people exist in a world made and curated to people whose brains function fundamentally differently from our own and often aren’t given the accommodations needed to succeed,” said an anonymous SMHS student. 

If you want to be a part of this change and help achieve the goal of Autism Acceptance Month, there are many ways you can stay involved and educated. Frickman said, “I feel like we should be more accepting and more understanding, autism can be an invisible disability, we don’t know who has autism on campus so it is important to treat the topic with respect and be kind to anyone on campus no matter what.” Don’t be afraid to reach out and socialize, and make friends. Go participate in some of the lunchtime activities set up throughout the month or even join the club Friday Knights where students get to bond and play games with students who have special needs. “We need to not see them as different because at the end of the day we are all students, and we all graduate, just trying to get through high school and trying to get involved into this small community we have,” Davis said.