Every year, April is observed as World Autism Awareness Month, with an aim to support the creation of fulfilling lives and relationships for persons with autism. This month also acts as a marker of the work that has been done so far, and the road that lies ahead of us in our pursuit of enabling the inclusion and acceptance of persons with autism in our university. To observe this month, the OLS planned a series of events and activities to promote and foster feelings of warmth and acceptance among the Ashoka community, specifically in the context of appreciating and accepting neurodiversity around us.
As a kickstart, the OLS put up posters across the campus listing a few ways in which we can extend a hand of friendship to our peers who are on the autism spectrum. The idea was to encourage the Ashoka community to pause for a moment and engage with the poster to understand and implement some of the inclusive practices highlighted through it, so as to make our neurodiverse peers feel more at home at Ashoka.
On April 12, the OLS had invited two organizations, Action for Autism (AFA) and Action for Ability Development and Inclusion (AADI), for the Spring Haat organized by the Student Life Office. Both the organizations set up their stalls, showcased the products made by people with autism and other disabilities, and engaged with various students, staff, and faculty at the stalls. Along with this, there was an interactive activity organized to explore the common understanding of autism amongst the Ashoka community members and put down questions that might have about it. The purpose was to initiate a conversation around autism and neurodiversity on the Ashoka campus. Later, the responses were collated, the Ashoka community was encouraged to reflect on their connotations, and common questions were addressed for the purpose of increasing awareness about autism.
The OLS encourages those curious to learn more about autism or create inclusive spaces around themselves to reach out to the office, for the month may have drawn to a close, but the dialogue on autism must continue.