Campaign Background

Based on a true story

The Accept Difference campaign for a more inclusive community is an Early Connections initiative.

Early Connections is a network of five community-based organisations on the Mid North Coast of NSW providing education and therapy to support families with a child from birth to 8 years of age with disability or developmental delay. Adopting a family-centred approach, our organisation commits to partnering with families to support each individual child to learn, grow and thrive.

Early Connections has produced a television commercial to advocate for the families they support. The commercial, first aired in July 2016, shares a story that is familiar to many families.

The Accept Difference TV commercial is based on a true story recounted by a mother whose child has autism.

People with autism are less likely to receive empathy because the condition is not obvious to an onlooker and behaviours such as meltdowns can be misunderstood as a temper tantrum. Sometimes this is referred to as an invisible disability.

The TV commercial shows a highly stressful incident in a public space and offers the viewer some insight into what the mother and child are dealing with.

The goal of the commercial is to make people more aware and understanding so that the next time they witness a similar situation, they will avoid making assumptions and passing judgement, but will offer a gesture of kindness instead.

Note: All children, under pressure, with or without autism, will show challenging behaviours and deserve a supportive community in order to thrive.

Although the TV commercial draws attention to autism, that is only one of the many visible and invisible disabilities we hope to raise awareness of. The Accept Difference campaign has a broad approach and aims to provide exposure to diverse abilities through various media platforms.

Downloadable PDF on Understanding Autism and ADHD includes Paediatric Statement

Autism and other medical conditions

To help you develop your understanding of autism and other conditions, we recommend you refer to the following websites:

A meltdown by a child may be caused by autism, so don’t be too quick to judge. This image depicts a female in a seated position on the floor restraining a young boy who has a distressed expression on his face. During a meltdown a persons physicality can be very out of control and here the female in a calm manner embraces the child to restrict his physicality in order to keep him safe.


Meltdowns may be a result of sensory overload, causing people to behave in certain ways as a coping mechanism that regulates their physiology. Because autism is an invisibility disability, to an onlooker a meltdown in a public space may appear like a temper tantrum. This may cause the onlooker to think that the child is being poorly disciplined or that the parent has no control.

The Accept Difference campaign raises awareness of the daily challenges faced by people with visible and invisible disabilities. This image is taken from the Accept Difference television commercial. It shows a female engaged in grocery shopping whilst holding the hand of a child standing beside her. The child has their finger in their mouth and looks off into the distance. This image attempts to illustrate invisible disability through showing people that don’t have any obvious physical differences that an onlooker may notice.

Invisible disability

Invisible disability refers to symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments. These are not always obvious to the onlooker, but can sometimes or always limit daily activities, ranging from mild challenges to severe limitations, and vary from person to person.
(source: Invisible Disabilities Association Website)