I think personally (as CEO of Square Peg Foundation and parent to two autistic children) that Autism awareness has made great strides in the past couple of years. Many shops now offer quiet hours which are aimed at people (children mostly) on the spectrum but are also beneficial to those with other conditions. Most cinemas offer Autism Friendly or Relaxed showings where the lights are just dimmed, the music isn't as loud and there are no pesky adverts, theatres are also catching on to the benefits of inclusion.
We obviously run our own events, our Stay & Play sessions are whole family events and we team up with local organisations to promote what's going for our families in the West Midlands.
We've been to many of these events over the past few years and the execution by the venue and understanding of the staff is worlds better. To us Autism is ordinary, it's just an everyday occurrence so coming up against people with no experience of disability is always a surprise. We often joke here at Square Peg that we know so few families with wholly neurotypical families that we don't know what to do with them when we meet them.
Different is Normal.
We are always pushing for more understanding, more knowledge and more acceptance. Gone are the days where disabled people/people who learn differently are shut away and forgotten about. Everyone has something to say whether it's verbally, through Makaton, BSL, a voice box, music, art or just a look.
I might not be my children's voice but I'm definitely their interpreters when they need it and their megaphones when they are struggling to be heard.
More needs to be done, all the time we come up against ignorance and hopefully we at Square Peg Foundation are doing our bit to educate and break down barriers. (Some people will never change their mindsets but hey ho we will try.) Our clothing will keep pushing the envelope, making people think, laugh and understand..it also makes some people angry and defensive but you can't please everybody all of the time can you? We'll keep informing people through talks, workshops and social media posts ( Foundation Facebook & Clothing Facebook) and we'll keep loving our Square Pegs and helping them achieve more through all the activities we run.