Autistic Pride Day (18 June)

Autistic Pride Day, originally an Aspies for Freedom initiative, is a pride celebration for autistic people held on 18 June each year.

Autistic pride recognises the importance of pride for autistic people and its role in bringing about positive changes in the broader society.

Autistic Pride

On 18 June every year, organisations around the world celebrate Autistic Pride Day, with events around the world, to connect with one another through autistic events and demonstrate to allistic people (those not on the autism spectrum) that autistic people are unique individuals who should not be seen as cases for treatment.

Autistic Pride Day was first celebrated in 2005 by Aspies for Freedom (AFF) and it quickly became a global event which is celebrated widely online and offline. AFF modelled the celebration on the gay pride movement. According to Kabie Brook, the co-founder of Autism Rights Group Highland (ARGH), “the most important thing to note about the day is that it is an autistic community event: it originated from and is still led by autistic people ourselves”, i.e. it is not a day for other charities or organisations to promote themselves or stifle autistic people. The rainbow infinity symbol is used as the symbol of this day, representing “diversity with infinite variations and infinite possibilities”.

During gay pride and other LGBTQ events, a rainbow flag is used featuring a white infinity symbol on a tri-colour background. LGBT+ autistic charity Twainbow oversaw the selection and online voting in 2015. Due to various reasons a rainbow infinity symbol is sometimes used.

Autistic pride points out that autistic people have always been an important part of human culture. Being autistic is a form of neurodiversity. As with all forms of neurodiversity, most of the challenges autistic people face come from other people’s attitudes about autism and a lack of supports and accommodations (ableism), rather than being essential to the autistic condition. For instance, according to Larry Arnold and Gareth Nelson, many autism-related organisations promote feelings of pity for parents, rather than fostering understanding. Autistic activists have contributed to a shift in attitudes away from the notion that autism is a deviation from the norm that must be treated or cured. Autistic self-advocacy organisations, which are led and run by autistics, are a key force in the movement for autistic acceptance and autistic pride.

New Scientist magazine released an article entitled “Autistic and proud” on the first Autistic Pride Day that discussed the idea.

Themes

  • 2005 Acceptance not cure – main event of 2005 was in Brasília, capital of Brazil.
  • 2006 Celebrate Neurodiversity – main events of 2006 were an Autistic Pride Summer Camp in Germany and an event at the Scienceworks Museum in Melbourne, Australia.
  • 2007 Autistics Speak. It’s time to listen.
  • 2008 Without a theme.
  • 2009 Without a theme.
  • 2010 Perspectives, not fear.
  • 2011 Recognize, Respect, Include.
  • 2012 No theme – main event of 2012 was in Herzliya Park, in Israel.
  • 2013 No theme – main event of 2013 was in Sacher Park, in Jerusalem, Israel.
  • 2015 No theme – main events were in Reading, UK, Hyde Park in London, UK, and Haifa, Israel.
  • 2016 No theme – main events were in Reading, UK, Hyde Park in London, UK, Manchester UK, and Ramat HaSharon, Israel, Nebraska.
  • 2017 No theme – main events were in Hyde Park, London, U.K., Reading U.K., Manchester UK and Modiin, Israel, and Nebraska.
  • 2018 No theme – main events were in Hyde Park, London, U.K., Reading U.K., Manchester UK and Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • 2019 No theme – main events were in Hyde Park, London, U.K., Reading U.K., Manchester UK, Paris, France, Lincoln, Nebraska, and for the first time, an Autistic Pride march in Galway, Ireland.

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