Danielle Dawgiello MS, MA, CRC, LPC
Autism Acceptance Month
April is Autism Acceptance month, making it a good time to reflect on being
aware, showing acceptance, and providing support for individuals with autism.
People with autism have a unique way of regulating emotions, taking in sensory input,
and hearing and perceiving what others are communicating to them. People with autism
struggle with feeling a sense of belonging or with self-esteem. At times, overthinking and
uncertainty can cause distress.
Some tools that can help are strategies within the executive functioning skills wheel,
multisensory coping strategies, and OARS (using open ended questions, acknowledging
responses, helping to reflect on the meaning of what is being communicated, and summarizing
what you are hearing them express).
Different types of coping strategies include sensory (stress balls, calming textures,
squishies, kinetic sand, weighted blankets) and calming (deep breathing, finger tracing, safe
place, mindfulness). When stressed, these coping tools can help to calm the fight, flight, freeze
responses that the nervous system has.
Here are some examples of things to ask to help understand someone’s perspective and
to help them “unpack their thoughts.”
“When you say _____ do you mean ____ or something else?”
“Is it more like_______?”
Sometimes making decisions can be stressful, and giving choices (menu of options) can
“Do you want to do your homework this afternoon, before dinner, or after dinner?”
Seeing what an individual sees from their perspective and connecting is an important
first step for awareness and acceptance.
Here are some resources to learn more:
@neurodivergent_lou on Instagram
@lifeinanautismworld on Instagram
Pgh Center for Autistic Advocacy (autisticpgh.org/peer-supports)
Parents in Toto (https://www.intotocommunity.org/)
Autism Awareness Facebook Page
The Spectrum of Executive Function Tool provided by: https://livedexperienceeducator.com/blog/thespectrumofexecutivefunction