Today April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day. Although we know so much more about autism than we did twenty or thirty years ago, it is still very important for all of us to make sure we know some facts and are able to debunk the myths about autism.
As an Applied Behavioral Analyst with a deep passion for autistic children, I am joining the rest of the world in wearing blue #LIUB and campaigning for a cause I believe in!
But today is about so much more than tweets and t-shirts. People like my childhood friend, Oyin! My cousin Sammy! and so many others who are on the autism spectrum, live with it every single day — we can’t stop showing our support when the blue lights go out.
Awareness is the first step to making true progress. With a loud enough megaphone, supported by your voice, we can convince lawmakers to fund more research for innovative treatments and resources for students on the spectrum who need a little extra support to keep up with their peers.
We can keep mapping the human genome to gain greater understanding of the many forms of autism and develop personalized treatments. We can educate more parents about the signs of autism to increase the rate of early diagnosis — and then connect them with the resources they need to help their child lead a happy and healthy life.
Here are 10 good reasons we should care about AUTISM:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.
Diagnosis of Autism now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.
About 700,000 people alone in UK are on the autism spectrum and with their families they make up around 2.8 million people whose lives are affected by autism on a daily basis according to the National Autistic Society. While about 36,500 of every 4 million children born each year in the United States will have autism.
The number of people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has dramatically increased over the last few years. Today it’s estimated that one child in 68 has ASD. This means in a secondary school of 1500 students about 15 of them will be autistic.
Being diagnosed as autistic isn’t a label or something negative – it can mean the difference between growing up in a confusing, scary world and getting all the right support and services. It also gives parents an explanation for difficulties their child is having. Adults can be diagnosed with autism as well.
Autistic people have a unique take on the world that can be fun, enlightening, entertaining and thought-provoking. They encourage us to see the value of sounds, smells, places and objects that may otherwise pass us by.
Chances are most people will know or be related to someone with autism making it vital that they understand something about what autism is and how they can adapt their world to make it more autism-friendly.
Autism is an invisible disability. That they could have extreme difficulties with sensory processing and social understanding and interaction is not immediately apparent.
Every autistic individual has their own unique version of autism. There are many myths and assumptions, but if you’ve met one person with autism … you’ve met one person with autism.
That kid in the supermarket having a tantrum might just be an autistic child so overloaded with sights, smells and sounds that the fear and stress has led to a meltdown. Think twice before judging: many parents are fighting battles like these every day and need your understanding and support.
Autistic traits have had a clear benefit to human development, and can affect the emotional well-being of the caretaker – Reach out to a family in need today!
Finally, I would like everyone reading this to show support within their natural environment by volunteering to learn coping strategies – Sunday schools! Camps, or even within your community! And my prayer is that, eventually they will grow up in a world that understands and embraces their difference … shortcomings and all.
***Dedicated to all my 240 adorable Autistic children & families, to the ones we have lost due to late intervention or mis-diagnosis and to all the early intervention/behavioral therapists who have dedicated their lives to serve them.
Yours in HOPE as I #LightItUpBlue for Autism Awareness this month!