Autism Acceptance Month Feature: Alden

April is Autism Acceptance Month!

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, with one in 36 children receiving a diagnosis, according to a newly-released report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In addition to 5.8 million Autistic adults, this prevalence means that Autism likely touches a vast majority of Americans either through relationships or direct experience, and the support needs across the Autism spectrum are vastly different. 

 Throughout the month, we will feature members of our local autism community, highlighting the various ways that autistic individuals and their families are connecting with each other and the broader community.

This week, we hear from Alden: 

As part of our Tell Us Your Story series for Autism Acceptance Month, we encountered some truly insightful narratives, including Alden’s. Alden’s journey reflects resilience in the face of numerous challenges, offering a glimpse into the complexities of navigating life with multiple

Growing up in the 90s, Alden faced hurdles due to misdiagnosis. Despite these
setbacks, Alden persisted in seeking proper diagnosis and support. However, even with a correct diagnosis, Alden encountered skepticism from healthcare providers, highlighting the pervasive lack of understanding surrounding her experiences. Work and school presented additional challenges for Alden. As a former teacher, she faced difficulties when requesting accommodations and experienced backlash from her employer. Despite her effectiveness as a teacher, Alden’s communication differences led to unfair treatment, prompting her to leave a job she cherished. In her community, Alden felt excluded from decision-making processes, both in policies and in individual interactions with healthcare providers. However, she found comfort and support through her family, music and academic strengths,
which helped bridge the gaps left by systemic barriers.

Reflecting on public spaces and transportation, Alden emphasized the need for improvement, particularly in making spaces more friendly for individuals with sensory issues. Furthermore, she underscored the urgent need for increased awareness and advocacy, especially in understanding the challenges of being disabled in a society that often fails to grasp them.

Despite the hurdles, Alden remains resilient, actively participating in advocacy efforts to improve rights and services for individuals with disabilities. Her employment at the Disability Law Center of Virginia and participation in
advocacy at Hill Days reflect her commitment to driving forward the quest for
inclusivity and equity in our society. Her suggestions for additional autism support and resources highlight the necessity for societal change, from enhancing public transport to increasing available mental health supports and ensuring fair employment practices, especially for those with communication differences.

Alden’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience and determination of individuals with multiple disabilities. Her courage and advocacy contribute to inspiring positive change and driving forward progress for years to come. We extend our deepest appreciation to Alden for sharing her story and insights.

Would you like to share your story this Autism Acceptance Month? Share your story HERE