Autism Advocates Tap Social Media Sites to Promote Awareness

With the meteoric rise of social media Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter, many individuals and groups now have the opportunity to reach large numbers of people to promote awareness, advocacy and attention for their causes. Such is the case with autism, where a dramatic spike in prevalence over the last 10 years has prompted many people to the take to the Internet to help, support and encourage others through the popular online social networks.

Stuart Duncan is the father of a five-year-old child with autism and one such example of how Twitter can be effectively used for advocacy efforts. Operating under the handle @autismfather, Duncan has amassed nearly 2,000 followers in the last year and has since been interviewed by CNN and recently helped raise thousands of dollars when Samsung offered $5 for every tweet that contained the hashtag #TeamAutism.

Duncan has a loyal online following and is currently planning to use Twitter and other Web sites as ways to implement an "upgrade" to Autism Awareness Day this coming April 2nd.

"My goals are quite lofty," he said. "The world is already aware of autism, but doesn’t truly know what it is. We feel the message of awareness is not enough, so the plan is to implement something known as Autism Understanding and Acceptance." 

Duncan says there are already twenty charities and companies on board to help support the cause, with more to follow.

Duncan’s story is just one example that shows how the Internet has leveled the playing field for normal, everyday people. In year’s past, awareness efforts were typically reserved for the large multi-million dollar organizations such as the American Red Cross or the Muscular Dystrophy Association, requiring lengthy telethons and big budgets to raise funding and awareness. However, the Internet, via Facebook and Twitter, has completely changed the landscape of how people are reaching out to others.

Zoey Roberts is a British Columbia resident on the autism spectrum who has taken to Facebook over the last 3 years to promote autism awareness and also give others insight into her Asperger’s Syndrome. With social situations a challenge, Roberts is able to use Facebook as a tool to connect with others to both receive and offer support.

Roberts has over 3,000 friends ( and runs multiple Facebook groups that allow her to share her experiences and unique perspectives.

"Through my online advocacy, I’m able to accomplish not only autism awareness, but also give others the opportunity to see things from the point of view from someone on the autism spectrum," said Roberts. "Using Facebook, my goal is to eventually create autism awareness, peace, unity and hopefully acceptance as well."

With more than 500 million active users on Facebook and over 200 million Twitter users, social media has become the vehicle of choice to promote causes and awareness. As recent events in Egypt and the Middle East have demonstrated, a voice that was once drowned out can now be heard loud and clear through the use of these types of sites.

And with autism rates continuing to climb at exponential levels, we can expect to see many more emerging voices on behalf of autism in the near future.

6 Responses to Autism Advocates Tap Social Media Sites to Promote Awareness

  1. Zoey Roberts says:

    thank you Gary my friend! have a nice day! :)

  2. Hi5! We believe Social networking is a majior key for us to access, share, learn, sipport and asdvocate for ouer 5 yr old son who enjoys life while living on the Autism Spectrum, Check out our family posts on all major social media sites with original posts at Initially, we started Facebook’s ‘Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the ADA-The Social Networking Way!’ and our various social media accounts as a project for the LA Developmental Disabilities Council initiative ‘Partners in Policymaking’. ENJOY!

  3. Kelly Green says:

    So glad you are a voice of reason Zoey.Thankyou for what you have done and do. How in 2011 can the media go on…never showing the flip side? Both brain-styles are valid!

  4. autism awareness says:

    You tube also has severeal videos of parents of autistic children ranging from “high functioning autism” to “severe autism” . Punch in either term to link to videos.

  5. Estelle Singleton-Fenderson says:

    I enjoyed reading Zoey’s message. I have worked with high functioning Austic students in the past. I have found computer technology and (ASL) American Sign Language as a behavior modification has helped the student to refocus on the academic skill or listening skills which help them to acheieve at a higher academic and social listening. Social media can be very helpful when used in the right way. For more information about using ASL please email me or contact me on facebook.

  6. Yolanda says:

    Defense team resorts to attacking mom of abused autistic man. Alleges she is a “high maintenance” mom who is “attention seeking” to attempt to shift focus off abuse of her son caught on tape. An insult and slap in face to every parent who reports criminal activity against their autistic child.

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
  • * Autism now affects 1 out of 88 children
  • * Autism affects 1 in 54 boys
  • * 1.7 million Americans have some form of autism
  • * 4 out of 5 autistic children are boys

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