A man smiling in a blue quarter-zip sweater. He has black hair and stands in front of a city scape with a body of water in front of it.

John Lemus, Advocacy Manager AtWork!

As you may know, April is Autism Acceptance Month, a time to raise awareness to promote autism acceptance, celebrate neurodiversity and individual differences, and continue to advance inclusivity and connectedness throughout the community.

At HireAbility, we celebrate neurodiversity and the value it brings to workplaces all over the region. This month, we were lucky enough to sit down with John Lemus, Advocacy Manager at AtWork! and Tom Miller Award for Advocacy recipient to hear his perspective on Autism Awareness Month and what he would like people to understand about living with Autism.


1. In your opinion, what are some common misconceptions about autism that you’d like to address during Autism Awareness Month?

I think the biggest thing that I would like people to know is that people with autism can and want to be contributing members of communities. People often can’t believe that I can do the work I do let alone that I’m a manager.


2. How do you feel about the representation of autism in the media and popular culture? What improvements would you like to see?

I would like to see the Sheldon Cooper dichotomy busted. He’s become the main character when people think about men and women with autism. When you’ve met one person with autism you’ve met one person with autism. As far as media and tv people with autism should be respected and represented within these spaces. Not even the guy who plays Dr Shaun Murphy on the good doctor is not autistic.


3. What are some practical ways individuals and communities can promote acceptance and inclusion of people with autism?

Social isolation is one of the biggest adverse experiences that adults with autism face. The best thing that people could do is see us as regular people and try to befriend us. I think often times everyone assumes that we have all these special things that are just for people with disabilities but not everyone wants to participate in those things. Work to intentionally Include people with autism within your social circles and in our community.