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From awareness to acceptance - Autism Society wants to change the name and the attitudes surrounding autism

The group's executive director says words matter and aims to change April to Autism Acceptance Month instead of an awareness month.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Autism Society is hoping it can change both the name and the attitude surrounding autism. Kate Schwartz, the executive director of the northwest Ohio group says words matter and in this case, she says words matter a whole lot.

"Everybody pretty much knows what autism is at this point, but it's moving more towards the acceptance in society in classrooms and in everyday life," Schwartz said.

She said acceptance is a whole different experience than awareness.

"Just being aware of something doesn't mean that somebody has a seat at the table. It doesn't mean that someone is welcomed into a situation that might be difficult."

Awareness is different than acceptance in the realm of employment as well.

Schwartz said more than 85% of autistic adults with a college degree are unemployed. 

"We want people to be employed in the real world, for real work, for real pay. And to start that process it's going to achieve that process, it's going to take acceptance," she said.

In support of the effort, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine granted the organization a proclamation in support of changing the name to "Autism Acceptance Month." 

From here, the national organization will also work to make the words describing the month align with the group's greater vision.

Locally, the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio gives support, education and advocacy outlets to individuals, parents, family members and professionals affected by autism across the lifespan and the entire autism spectrum in 12 counties in northwest Ohio. You can find more about the organization at its website here