April is Autism Awareness Month!

autism awareness month

 

As the last of the snow melts (hopefully), here in New York we are greeting the first signs of spring! April is not only a special month because it brings warmer temperatures; it also brings everyone together for autism awareness.

April 2 marks World Autism Awareness Day. First recognized by the United Nations just eight years ago, WAAD is celebrated internationally in different ways. In England for example, the people created Onesie Wednesday to coincide with WAAD in 2014. By wearing a onesie, they spread the message that being different is okay.

By spreading autism awareness, the world is made easier and more accepting for people living with ASD. First, it reduces feelings of alienation. The community begins to understand that this child screaming in public is not simply spoiled and angry, but that the lights and sounds around them are far more intense than they would be for the other children. In turn, his mother is not judged for the way she handles the grocery store meltdown.

With better awareness also comes better detection. Now, doctors and therapists know the signs to look for. Signs like social avoidance, not responding to touch, or even a wandering gaze can clue them in to what’s going on with the child, so that effective therapies can be started earlier in life. Children with autism are no longer shunned and recommended for institutionalization simply because they learn and experience the world differently.

As “autism” becomes included better in the popular lexicon, scientists become more interested in learning more about the disorder, which means conducting in-depth peer reviewed studies to pin down the causes and most effective treatments for ASD. The public will slowly begin to understand what the risk factors are for developing autism, and better medicines and therapies will become available for their children.

But don’t forget that we also embrace the gifts from the autism community! By becoming aware of the complexities of ASD, we also recognize the unique and amazing things the autism brain can be capable of. We celebrate the accomplishments of historical figures who were most likely on the autism spectrum, including Mozart, Newton, and Einstein. Their ability to fixate on a passion and develop mastery in a single area while socializing minimally can often be a great asset in the workplace.

With World Autism Awareness Day approaching in the near future, we turn our gaze forward to the autism community in Ghana, where autism awareness is not as high as it may be in developed nations. The country lacks the resources to nurture children with autism- a meltdown is explained by witchcraft and the community ostracizes them. These kids deserve so much better- and with our help we can build a model school run by experts in the field, who can bring their knowledge to parents and policy makers. Learn more about Caring 4 Autism in Africa>>

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