Get as colourful as possible for World Autism Acceptance Week

World Autism Acceptance Week 2024 is being held from 2nd to 8th April, with Tuesday 2nd April also being designated as World Autism Awareness Day.

World Autism Acceptance Week falls in the first week of AprilThe international awareness week helps to improve awareness, raise vital funds, breakdown barriers and tackle discrimination.

The National Autistic Society encourages schools, workplaces and local communities to get involved, raise funds and “help create a society that works for autistic people.”

Get involved this World Autism Acceptance Week

Participate in a spectrum colour walk for world autism acceptance week 2024This year, the theme is colour and the National Autistic Society is urging people to get as colourful as possible as they carry out their fundraising activities. This includes a 5K Spectrum Colour Walk, with organised walks taking place in London, Birmingham and Leeds, or the option for individuals and groups to do their own walk at a time and place that works for them.

They also provide lots of other ideas for World Autism Acceptance Week fundraising activities on their website.

The National Autistic Society is also helping people to join in the World Autism Acceptance Week conversation on social media, with a social media toolkit featuring a range of social media assets available to download for free, alongside some suggested posts.

They say that sharing, connecting and engaging with people across social media can help to increase autism acceptance and awareness, and they are urging people to join in using the hashtags #AutismAcceptanceWeek, #WAAW24 and #SpectrumColourWalk or #SpectrumColourWalks.

Of course, the National Autistic Society is also a charity which relies on donations to be able to support people. They are appealing for anyone who is able to make a donation this World Autism Acceptance Week so that they can continue to do their amazing work.

On their website, they share that donations can be used in the following ways:

  • £15 could help provide a safe virtual space for an autistic person through their online community
  • £100 could help autistic young people thrive in school by funding their campaign work for better autism training in education
  • £500 could help ensure crucial diagnosis advice and guidance is available for the 150,000 people currently waiting for an autism assessment
  • £1000 could help an autistic person find meaningful work and keep it, through their employment support programmes

Tackling discrimination and barriers this World Autism Acceptance Week

World Autism Acceptance week helps to highlight the information advice and guidance available for autistic people and their familiesWorld Autism Acceptance Week aims to help people access tailored information, guidance and support to help them overcome the barriers they face across all sectors of society.

The National Autistic Society explains that autistic people still sadly face discrimination and barriers “in the health and social care systems, in education, in employment, and everywhere in between.”

They say that autistic people need opportunities to explore their interests, develop their skills and build friendships for fulfilled lives. They provide a range of advice and guidance about autism, including information about definitions, diagnosis, communication, mental health, education and more.

They also cite some stark figures, including:

  • Only around a quarter (26%) of autistic pupils feel happy at school
  • Less than a third (29%) of autistic people are in any form of employment
  • The majority (70%) of autistic people experience mental health problems
  • There are over 150,000 people on the waiting list for an autism assessment in the UK

These figures make clear why campaigns such as World Autism Acceptance Week are so vital.

Number of autistic people detained in mental health hospitals has risen

Last Month, the charity also published a news update revealing the number of autistic people currently in mental health hospitals in England.

Quoting Assuring Transformation NHS Digital data, they said that, in February 2024 there were a total of 2,045 autistic people and people with learning disabilities in inpatient mental health hospitals in England. Of these, over two thirds (67%) were autistic. Meanwhile, 210 were under the age of 18, and 93% of these young patients were autistic.

The National Autistic Society reveals:

“Despite some progress moving people with a learning disability out of hospital and into the community, the number of autistic people in inpatient facilities has increased.

“In 2015, autistic people made up 38% of the number in hospital, now it is 67%. Additionally, the number of autistic people without a learning disability detained in mental health hospitals has increased by 109% since 2015.”

Too many autistic people are still detained in mental health hospitals, despite government pledgesThis is despite the fact that the 2019 NHS Long-Term Plan included the commitment to halve the number of autistic people and people with learning disabilities in inpatient care from 2015 levels by this March. This target was then reaffirmed by the government in its Building the Right Support Action Plan, but the data shows it has been missed and that the number of autistic people and people with learning disabilities detained in inpatient mental health hospitals has only increased.

This is extremely concerning, as the charity notes that it is “widely recognised” that receiving care in an inpatient mental health unit can be “deeply damaging” for autistic people.

They explain that the average length of stay for an autistic person is around 4.9 years and that many continue to experience “overmedication, seclusion and unnecessary restraint,” while receiving care in these facilities.

Campaigning for fair mental health laws

In the vast majority of cases (92%), the Mental Health Act 1983 is used to detain autistic people and people with a learning disability in a mental health hospital.

The National Autistic Society are campaigning for fairer mental health lawsThe National Autistic Society and many other organisations and campaigners have been calling for changes to the Mental Health Act for years. The law needs to be reformed to stop people being sectioned just because they’re autistic and to make it easier for autistic people in hospitals to leave.

Such changes were put forward in a draft bill to reform mental health law in June 2022, but this Bill was not included in the 2023 King’s Speech, meaning the government does not have any plans to introduce it before the next General Election.

As we mark World Autism Acceptance Week, the National Autistic Society says that the Bill must be brought to Parliament as soon as possible for it to be debated and strengthened.

In October 2023, the charity launched its Time to Act campaign in collaboration with Mencap. This called on the government to reform outdated mental health law.

They pledge:

“We will not stop fighting for fair mental health laws and will be continuing to campaign for urgent reform in the run-up to the next General Election and beyond.

“We will be engaging with all parties on this issue. This means meeting with MPs, asking important questions in Parliament, and demanding the government do more to end the scandal of autistic people being wrongly held in mental health hospitals.

“We are also helping autistic people and families who are detained, or at risk of detention, directly, via our Autism Inpatient Mental Health Casework Service.”

Improve awareness this World Autism Acceptance Week

World Autism Acceptance Week aims to breakdown barriers that autistic people still face in society, with discrimination still rife in health and care, education and the workplaceFirst Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safetyfirst aidfire safetymanual handlingfood safetymental healthhealth and social caresafeguarding and more.

They have developed specialist courses such as Learning Disability Awareness, ADHD Awareness, Introduction to the Autistic Spectrum, Working with People with Autism, Dyslexia Awareness, SEND Awareness and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for Early Years and Schools.

They have also previously worked in partnership with clients to develop bespoke training for them in topics such as Adapting Learning for SEND and SEND and Barriers to Learning.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Autistic people and people with learning disabilities deserve high quality care, personalised care that takes account of their individual needs and concerns and promotes dignity, independence and compassion. They should not be subject to inappropriate care at any time.

“Oliver McGowan’s family have spent years campaigning to this effect and developed the mandatory training programme to help transform care. Now it is time to also ensure the legislation around mental health care is fit for purpose and promotes equal, high quality, safe and appropriate care for all.

“This World Autism Acceptance Week, it’s really important that we focus on these issues and ensure that autistic people have a voice and can overcome barriers in society.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to