Moving Beyond Awareness

Group of people standing around the kitchen counter after dinner.

This month is Autism Awareness Month, a month in which we honor the accomplishments of those on the spectrum and spread information on autism in the hopes of making the world more knowledgeable of the struggles, the victories, and all of what those on the spectrum have to offer society. 

However, this year, Gersh Autism would like to refocus our energy, from awareness to acceptance and understanding. Gersh Autism’s vision is “a world where individuals on the autism spectrum are empowered to thrive.” That starts with us, as a society, fully embracing individuals on the spectrum into our community.

Turning Awareness Into Acceptance

The word “aware” gives little responsibility to the general population. It says, “Acknowledge we exist, and then your job is done.” It is our mission to go beyond simple awareness, and to encourage others to accept and understand that those on the spectrum do have some differences, and may need some accommodations because of those differences. However, those accommodations are minimal in comparison to the positive impact this population lends to our society as a whole. 

Gersh Academy student receiving hands-on training at Home Depot, one of our many vocational partners.

It is impossible for most of us to truly understand the daily walk of someone on the spectrum. What we can do is remind ourselves of some of the roadblocks and hardships this population experiences, and recognize the huge potential if slight accommodations are made. In accepting and understanding those differences and the reasons for those accommodations, we help to create a better world for all of us.

How Gersh Promotes These Values

Kevin Gersh founded Gersh Academy after one simple act of accommodating a student. Throughout its existence, Gersh has followed that mission to show how truly possible acceptance and understanding are. All of our efforts revolve, and have always revolved, around creating a world where students on the spectrum are empowered to thrive. 

We see acceptance and understanding in practice in our vocational programs, where, while educating our students about the greater community, we also take the opportunity to teach the community about our students. We see it in events like Autism Day at Six Flags, where we proved to the facilitators that with just a few simple accommodations, all children can have an amazing experience. We see it every day in our academic programs, where the community is always involved in some capacity, as we know its importance to our students’ lives.

A family enjoying Autism Day at Six Flags Great Adventure.

We have seen it this year more than ever. In the midst of COVID lockdowns, we were hard at work developing in-home assistance as well as transitional programs to accommodate our students throughout this unprecedented situation. Again, we were an example to the community that by taking the time to make a few slight accommodations, we allowed our students the opportunity to succeed in a situation where others were understandably struggling.

What You Can Do

This month, we encourage you to adopt our mission:

  • Learn more about the resources in your own area and evaluate how they are accommodating and including individuals on the spectrum.
  • Consider ways you can accommodate others in your place of work, community groups you are a part of, schools you have children enrolled in, or activities with which you are involved.
  • Follow pages, like Gersh Autism, to learn more about what people are doing to make those accommodations.
  • Take the time to listen to those on the spectrum about their experiences and help them make the change they want to see in the world.
  • Remind yourself to look past the stereotype and into everything an individual has to offer, and do what you can to support them. Ask questions to gain a better understanding, and offer ways for them to get involved.

As a society, we are already aware. The vast majority of people at this point know what autism is. It’s time to do more. Throughout this month, we will be sharing ways we promote acceptance and understanding, and by doing that, we hope to help others find ways to create the world we have always envisioned.

Kevin Gersh congratulates graduating students.
We're Hiring!
We’re looking for dedicated and passionate individuals who want to make a difference in the lives of children on the autism spectrum.    Our team is expanding and looking for dynamic people to join our team in a variety of positions for our programs located in Washington, New York and Puerto Rico.   Benefits include medical, dental and vision insurance, paid time off, 401K with matching and more.  Some positions also include housing or a signing bonus!
We're Hiring!
We’re looking for dedicated and passionate individuals who want to make a difference in the lives of children on the autism spectrum.    Our team is expanding and looking for dynamic people to join our team in a variety of positions for our programs located in Washington, New Hampshire, New York and Puerto Rico.   Benefits include medical, dental and vision insurance, paid time off, 401K with matching and more.  Some positions also include housing or a signing bonus!