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April is Autism Acceptance Month and is a celebration and movement to promote inclusion and connection for people with autism. Autism is experienced differently by each person and supporting their goals is unique too. Our hope is to help those who are nonspeaking achieve their full communication potential and be more involved in their environments.

“Awareness is knowing that somebody has autism,” said Christopher Banks, CEO of The Autism Society of America. “Acceptance is when you include a person with autism in your activities.”

Let’s center the experiences of autistic individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Their individual and collective perspectives teach us so much about how to care for one another. Catlaina Vrana and Lance McLemore are PRC-Saltillo ambassadors and guest bloggers who are on the autism spectrum. Read their bios and enjoy their writings available on the AAC Language Lab blog.

Catlaina Vrana

Bio: Hello! My name is Catlaina. I live with my mom and two cats in Kansas. I have autism and significant dysfluency. High-tech AAC has been my jam for the past nine years or so. Currently, I’m using an Accent 1000 with LAMP and a keyguard. I like art (especially if it's weird), writing, drawing, and crocheting. I crochet toys every week for a foster care program in Arkansas. I can also play the piano and bass clarinet. Learn more about Catlaina and leave her a message here.

Catlaina’s blog post, Autism Representation in Star Trek, invites you to consider how autism can be represented indirectly through characters, settings, and stories. Here’s an excerpt:

                “In Star Trek: Voyager, the crew works together. Not despite their differences. Not because of them. Differences of thought aren’t treated as burdens or superpowers. Whether Klingon, Talixian, Borg, Vulcan, or computer software, the essence of their worth is their humanity; their willingness to contribute to a cause greater than themselves. To explore not only the galaxy, but to discover what it means to exist.”

Read the full article.

Lance McLemore

Bio: My name is Lance McLemore. I'm 33 years old right now. I graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a BA in studio art and philosophy. I like to spend my free time creating different things. I might paint, draw, or sew. I'm on the autism spectrum, and I have verbal apraxia. I got my first PRC device in December of 2016. When I was going through the evaluation process I initially preferred Word Power, but then I later switched to LAMP Words for Life. I still use that language system to this day. I use an Accent 1000 with direct access, and I have a VI keyguard over the screen. Learn more about Lance and leave him a message here.

Though he admits to generally not liking open-ended questions, Lance thoughtfully responds to “What Is It Like to Have Autism?” in this blog post. Here’s an excerpt:

                  “An autistic person is a foreigner in their own land. It would be nice if there was some home planet we could go back to, but there isn’t one. Instead, we live in a world that doesn’t seem like ours, it wasn’t built for us, but we try to get along as best as we can.”

Read the full article.

Did their words resonate with you? Have their blogs prompted a question? Leave a comment on their blog post by logging into the AAC Language Lab with your email and PRC-Saltillo password. (Don’t have a login yet? Make a free account today!) Click on the blog you want to leave a comment on and scroll to the bottom of the post. Enter your message in the text box and select the submit button. Catlaina, Lance, and our other ambassadors would love to hear your responses to their writings and send you a communication in return.

How can you celebrate Autism Acceptance Month?

  • Become a better ally to people with autism by listening and learning
  • Make lite-tech communication boards available in your community
  • Follow the Center for AAC & Autism on Facebook and participate in online conversations with autistic individuals who communicate with AAC
  • Read more posts by communicators in action on the AAC Language Lab and respond with questions and curiosity

Note: To respect different preferences, both identity first ("autistic person") and person first ("person with autism") language are used in this blog post. If you’re not sure what your friend or loved one prefers, simply ask.

Educational Resources  -    april is autism awareness