Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States. Every year, Autism Awareness Month is celebrated in April, but this year advocates and professionals are shifting the conversation from awareness to acceptance. Awareness educates the community about the signs, symptoms, and realities of Autism. The next step is to accept Autistic people into the community, celebrate their differences, and acknowledge their talents and accomplishments.
Autism Awareness Month: Changing the Way People Think About ASD
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disability that can affect a person’s social communication and interactions. According to the Autism Society, ASD is characterized by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects people differently and to varying degrees.
There is not one single cause of ASD that is known to experts, but differences in brain structure or function have been acknowledged as a potential cause. Each person experiences Autism differently and through early diagnosis, Autistic individuals can lead normal high-quality lives.
It All Starts with Awareness
Communities become educated about ASD and learn about steps they can take to become more inclusive and understanding through awareness. With 1 in every 54 children in the United States diagnosed with Autism, it is important to integrate them into communities at an international level.
Autism advocates awareness efforts include online informational sites, marketing campaigns, and partnering with communities to show how individuals with Autism can lead full lives. Awareness, however, extends much further than educating communities. Autism Awareness Month also aims to empower individuals with Autism to pursue their goals and live life to the fullest.
People with autism are not much different than the rest of us. Most can lead successful lives and acquire amazing talents in just about any professional field.
Sir Anthony Hopkins, an Academy Award-winning actor with a long history of highly acclaimed films under his belt, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as a child. Then there is Jerry Seinfeld, one of the world’s most popular comedians, who is open about ASD and his social challenges. Additionally, Elon Musk, billionaire entrepreneur and investor, recently announced that he was on the autism spectrum.
One thing is for certain; those diagnosed with autism are just as capable as anyone else of achieving success.
What Can You Do?
This Autism Awareness Month pledge to help advocates change the narrative from awareness to acceptance. Consider donating to organizations (like CMA) that provide supports and services to people with Autism. Or, take it upon yourself to host a fundraiser event within your community.
Volunteering is another great way to lend your time towards Autism advocacy. Additionally, reach out to your political representatives at the local and state levels to encourage policies that expand on the rights of the Autism community.
Most importantly, help create a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential!