Autism acceptance and why it is crucial Profoundly, we all desire other people’s acknowledgement of our feelings. We want our sufferings to be understood, our anxieties noticed, and our sadness given legitimacy. We don't expect always to be understood, but we desire to be validated. Am I discussing autistic people or all of us? Of course, acceptance starts with understanding and validation, but perhaps more crucially, it begins with recognising the person before you as someone who feels just like you sometimes. We all want to be heard. We all need someone to acknowledge what we say, but more than that, we want someone to hear what we say and understand what that means about us without judgement. The rise of social media has made it simpler to keep connected with people. So why is it in this country, we have a pandemic of loneliness? Add to that, the social difficulties often experienced by an autistic person, and you can find yourself misunderstood and alone. Through our voice, sharing our ideas and thoughts, we can help ourselves and those around us. Through acceptance and understanding, we can nurture and support those around us in their journeys, as well as seeking help with our own. Having a voice allows us to take our place in society. When we learn about others and respect our similarities and differences, we learn so much more about the world and ourselves, helping us grow. Let's not label people with tags within a category; instead, together, let's celebrate our humanity. That’s why World Autism Acceptance Week is so important and why the Sunderland Echo is proud to be working with the North East Autism Society to raise awareness through this special edition. The special edition will be launched on Wednesday, 31st March as part of World Autism Acceptance Week.