Check out this guide to learn how you can show support for Autism awareness during the month of April.
April marks the start of Autism Awareness Month. There are a multitude of ways to show your support for the cause while making strides towards the future.
If you would like to learn more about autism and how you can be an ally this month (and all year round), read on for more information.
What is Autism?
Autism is less of a condition itself and more of a collection of conditions that occur in an individual.
These can include speech problems, nonverbal difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. While someone may be diagnosed with autism, there is actually a large spectrum of autism disorders.
Each individual will have their own unique set of symptoms and challenges, that will affect how they live and interact with others.
Who Can Autism Affect?
While practically anyone can be diagnosed with autism, there are specific risk factors that show a higher chance of the disorder occurring. Currently, there is a rise among children diagnosed with autism, with studies showing that one in every 88 children will be diagnosed with it.
Boys are also five times more likely to be diagnosed with autism. Genetics may also give us a clue since one in every 10 children with autism also experiences some form of genetic disorder.
The Signs and Symptoms of Autism
It’s important to be aware of the early warning signs of autism. The sooner someone with autism can be diagnosed, the sooner the right therapies can be provided.
Signs and symptoms of autism tend to fall into three categories: social, speech and non-verbal signs. It’s important to remember that someone with autism may exhibit signs from only one or two of the three categories.
Those with autism may show specific signs while in social situations. Some signs to be aware of include:
- Not wanting to be held or touched
- Not participating in pretend games, group games, or games that require the imagination
- Uninterested in those around them
- Not responding to verbal cues or questions from others
If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your child, it’s suggested that you speak with your doctor.
Signs of autism may also arise in an individual’s speech. While every child develops their language skills in their own unique time, it’s important to be aware of the following signs:
- Speaking in an unusual pitch or rhythm
- Repetitive speech
- Repeats a question back to the asker rather than answering it
- Is unable to communicate needs
- Is unable to carry out simple directions
- Takes sarcasm or irony literally
- Non-Verbal Signs
These signs can also be present in someone that is simply shy or introverted. However, it helps to check just in case.
Signs of Inflexibility
Some signs of autism may be recognized as resistance to change or inflexibility found in a daily routine. Signs to be on the lookout for include:
- Needing to follow the same daily routine
- Difficulty adjusting to new surroundings
- A strong attachment to specific objects such as pens or keys
- An interest in numbers, symbols, or patterns
- An intense focus on moving items like ceiling fans
- A repetition in motions such as rocking or tapping
While it may be tempting to “push” your child out of their comfort zone, this can actually be damaging to a child with autism. Which is why it’s important to recognize the signs early on.
Causes of Autism
While scientists are still unaware of the exact causes of autism there are some patterns that have been recognized. For example, a specific combination of genes has been found to result in a higher chance of autism.
Common Myths About Autism
While autism rates have increased by 15% in the last 2 years, many people are still unaware of what autism is and how it affects those that have it. As a result, a number of myths have arisen over the years. Some commonly known myths include:
- Individuals with autism don’t want friendship.
- Those with autism are incapable of expressing emotion.
- Autism is a mental handicap.
- Only children can be diagnosed with autism.
Conquering these myths and getting to the facts is essential for embedding a strong understanding of autism within our society.
The Best Resources for Those with Autism
Since the severity of autism and its symptoms vary from case to case, there is no one resource that’s recommended. Rather the individual with autism should be treated with solutions that best suit their specific needs. Popular options include:
- Speech therapy
- Social skills classes
- Psychiatrist or psychologist
- Swimming classes
- Occupational therapy
- ABA therapy
It has also been found that animal therapy, such as time with horses and dolphins, may also be beneficial for those with autism.
Getting Involved with Autism Awareness Month
Whether you have been personally diagnosed with autism or want to support someone you love with autism, there are a number of ways you can get involved this month to support the cause.
The color blue is often associated with calm, peace, and kindness. It’s also the official color of autism and the autism ribbon. Wearing blue (specifically light blue) is a great way to show your support, and bring awareness to the cause.
Pass the Puzzle
The international symbol of autism is the puzzle piece pattern found on the autism ribbon. The symbol represents the complex symptoms, and conditions for those that fall within the autism spectrum.
The vibrant colors found on the puzzle piece represents the hopeful future for those suffering from autism.
Donate to Organizations Supporting the Cause
You can help support by donating money and time to credible foundations for research on autism and foundations that offer services for those with autism.
Join a Walk
You’ll find a number of walks being held to raise money for autism awareness and research funding in the month of April. Whether you choose to do a marathon or a simple walk, check for an event near you and invite your loved ones to participate.
Be an Advocate
There continues to be a lack of programs in the school system that support those with autism. You can be a powerful advocate by working with your local school board to create courses for those with autism as well as assemblies to teach respect and understanding to their peers.
The Right First Step
Getting involved in autism awareness month is just one of the many ways to join forces in finding a cure and spreading awareness.
The more you understand about autism, the more you can help make a difference. We recommend reading more about the autism spectrum in order to become a powerful ally.