MLK! Remember to Be Inclusive!

Monday, January 16th is a day that’s etched into our minds with memories of what Martin Luther King Jr. stood up for. He stood for inclusion and to bring more people into the mainstream, giving them opportunities they didn’t have before. It is no secret that his work brought change into the American society.

It took an additional three decades for the Americans with Disabilities Act to come into force after the iconic speech was first made by Martin Luther King Jr. This begs the question. what are we doing for those with autism and other challenges?

Here’s a look at what’s being done already towards this goal of inclusion throughout the community,employment, and recreational arena.

Special Olympics

Special Olympics represents the support for individuals with disabilities to be included and still be able to engage in international competition and bring people of all ages and backgrounds together. In the lead up to these events, individuals get involved in practicing for track events and other sports that build social interaction. Special golf tournaments, such as the 2017 Special Olympic World Winter Games, can also bring together a diverse group of people and build a sense of community and inclusiveness.

Employment opportunities

Employment for  individuals affected by autism has definitely changed over the past year. For example, on April 1st 2016 (International Autism Day), Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Mary Ellen Smith, came before the representatives of 193 countries at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and announced Microsoft’s pilot program for hiring people on the autism spectrum. From software engineering, data sciences, customer service and operations to specialized teams such as Windows, Xbox, and HoloLens, Microsoft is expanding their candidate pool and providing promising careers to individuals with autism.

Inclusive stories, television, movies and media

As characters with autism appear in more plays, films and on television,  the stigma of autism becomes less. Two years ago, Sesame Street’s first ever character with autism named Julia was introduced. CBS has also impacted the autism community greatly with Sheldon, a main character on the Big Bang Theory. Sheldon plays a scientific genius who works at a local university and shows several characteristics that are typical to those who have Aspergers, such as attention to detail, repetitive actions and a lack of social skills. Not to mention that Pixar has recently created a movie aimed to help all individuals, especially on the autism spectrum, understand and visualize their emotions.

As our future continues to get brighter and acceptance continues to grow let us not forget those who started the process. Those who fought for a more liberating world filled with uniqueness and individuality. BHW would like to honor Martin Luther King and thank him for being one of the many who created change that lasts.

#MartinLutherKingDay #inclusion