Over the course of April, the Autism Society of America celebrated National Autism Awareness Month (NAAM) by inviting our communities to participate in our #CelebrateDifferences campaign while still recognizing social distancing measures during the COVID-19 global pandemic. While nationwide NAAM efforts were forced to operate differently this year with over 350 events and programs canceled, our mission and commitment to spreading awareness, promote acceptance, and ignite change remained steadfast as we continued to manage, rebuild and move forward. 

Since its debut in late March, our National Autism Awareness Month website shared valuable information and educational resources and was visited over 14,000 times, with over 5,000 individuals accessing our NAAM resources. 

The Autism Society was also proud to launch our #CelebrateDifferences video exploring just how much everyday people know about autism–only to surprise them with the knowledge that the entire video crew is on the autism spectrum. The video, which was viewed nearly 2,000 times in addition to the excess of 14,000 individuals who contributed to our #CelebrateDifferences hashtag across social media, created meaningful space to engage in empathetic understanding and conversation surrounding the autism community.

In addition to digital assets, the Autism Society Network’s wider NAAM campaigns pivoted from hundreds of in-person programs to several successful digital conferences and events designed to spread awareness, promote acceptance and ignite change. These events, including the Autism Society Inland Empire’s Virtual Hero Walk and Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin’s Stronger in 2020 Digital Conference, provided a variety of resources designed to inform and encourage communities to celebrate differences while meeting the practical needs of our community during this global crisis. 

In addition to direct NAAM efforts, the Autism Society has made a point to address the ongoing needs in our community during this pandemic via our COVID-19 Toolkit, Coronavirus Information Series, our partnership videos with MyHana, and our State Advocacy Toolkit, all designed to provide resources and actionable content through this difficult time.

As we move into May, the Autism Society looks forward to celebrating Giving Tuesday Now, an emergency fundraising response to the needs created by COVID-19, on May 5. Our network remains committed to the autism community as we face extraordinary pressures during this global pandemic. Our nationwide response efforts continue to be our top priority to best serve individuals and families with autism during this crisis.