Get ready for the gold rush! The region is poised for what’s set to be a ground-breaking seven days. For the North East Autism Society has rebranded what was previously known as autism awareness week, instead using April 1-7 to campaign for Autism Acceptance. And it’s an idea the people of the North East are only too keen to support. More than 40 schools have pledged their support signing up for awareness workshops, fundraising activities and acceptance promotion. Metrocentre and Eldon Square are also backing the Autism Acceptance campaign inviting the Society in for roadshows throughout the week – piloting some fantastic new initiatives to support autistic children too. Using the global focus on autism to bring the world’s attention to autism acceptance the theme for the week is Going for Gold – with some of our most iconic landmarks also joining in. Look out for Penshaw Monument, Seaburn Lighthouse, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the Tyne Bridge, Newcastle Civic Centre, Middlesbrough Centre Square Fountains, Darlington Clock Tower, the Northern Spire Bridge in Sunderland, Market Square Sunderland and Durham Fire HQ bathing their buildings in a golden hue in support of autism acceptance during the week. We’ve also created the world’s first gold coloured infinity loop awareness ribbon and have a growing list of businesses and organisations pledging to take part in gold-themed activities next week, and our Walk for Autism on April 12th at Herrington Country Park. Chosen because gold is the colour associated with success and achievement. It’s the hallmark of great things but more than that, Going for Gold is a new take on how autism is viewed and celebrated within our region, and in our nation. Rather than the language of deficits or disability, the Society wants autism and neurodiversity to be celebrated and accepted; to be seen and understood in a positive light. It also wants our region to lead the way in being autism friendly. Gold is also a step away from traditional blue-themed autism campaigns now linked to controversial charities and organisations particularly in the US, who still advocate harmful therapies and cures, and it’s the colour of choice for autistic advocates who want neurodiversity to be celebrated not eradicated. Chief Executive of the North East Autism Society, John Phillipson, said: This is our most exciting campaign to date because it’s about each of us taking responsibility to make the world a better place. We’ve been providing services for autistic children, young people and adults in the North-east for close to 40 years. It’s time we moved from awareness to a new standard – a gold standard - of acceptance and celebration.