For some April 1 is a day of fools and pranks, but for others it is a day that kicks off Autism Awareness Month. The question is – what is autism and what can you do to help support this spectrum disorder?
What is autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (or ASD for short) is the name of a complex development disorder that affects the way a personal is able to socialize with the world around them. Autism is classified as a spectrum disorder because there are many different degrees of autism.
As the Huffington Post reminds us, there are 3.5 million people just in the United States living with ASD. ASD is a disorder that affects 1 in every 68 children. Considering how common the disorder is, chances are pretty good you know someone who is on the autism spectrum.
In 1965, The Autism Society was founded and a few years later a nationwide campaign to raise awareness for ASD started to transpire. It was in April of 1970 that the very first National Autism Awareness Month took place. Nearly 50 years later, April is a month dedicated to raising awareness about autism spectrum disorder and educating people on how they can support ASD.
Curious as to how you can support ASD and participate in Autism Awareness Month? Keep reading for a list of ideas.
How to raise awareness
A large portion of Autism Awareness Month is simply raising awareness about the disorder. The month of April is an opportunity to educate people on what autism is. By raising awareness, the hope is that autistic individuals can be more accepted in the world despite being different, the phrase “different not less” being frequently used to refer to individuals who have autism.
So, how can you raise awareness during Autism Awareness Month? Here are a few ideas.
Wear blue on April 2
April 2 (tomorrow) is Autism Awareness Day. This is a day that the organization Autism Speak celebrates the start of the autism awareness campaign called “Light It Up Blue.” During this campaign, landmarks, buildings, homes, and even people will “light up blue” in order to support individuals who have autism.
Tomorrow – April 2nd – is a day for you to pull your favorite blue shirt out of your closet. Some opt for dying their hair with temporary blue hair coloring, and others go with blue jewelry. According to the Huffington Post, #LIUB is the official hashtag to use to show your support on social media tomorrow.
Share the autism puzzle
The puzzle ribbon is the most widely recognized symbol used to spread autism awareness. Sharing the ribbon by wearing it as a pin, sticker, or decal is an easy way to spread awareness in support of Autism Awareness Month.
Only donate to credible organizations
Not everyone has the financial ability to donate credible autism organizations, but donating is another great way to celebrate Autism Awareness month. Last year, the National Institute for Health reported having a $216 million budget for autism research. It goes without saying that the more money the institute has the more research they will be able to do and more research means more progress.
According to Disability Scoop, a study conducted in 2014 determined that a diagnosis of autism can cost a family a minimum of $17,000 a year per child. Autism Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity for those who are financially able to donate to the cause. The key is to make sure donations are only being made to credible organizations with the best interests of the autism community in mind such as Autism Speaks, The Autism Society, and The Autism Research Foundation.
Show support by being active
Wearing blue, using a hashtag on social media, and wearing a puzzle piece ribbon are great ways to spread awareness. Donating money to credible organizations is also great for someone who has the money to do so. But some people want to be more active in their support for ASD. Fortunately, there are ways for you to actively show support as well. If you want to find a way to be more active in supporting the autism community for Autism Awareness Month, keep reading for some ideas.
Join a walk for the cause
People walk for all sorts of different causes – usually related to health. Walks to raise money for autism are a great way for you to be active in your support for autism. Just do a quick search to find out when and where the nearest walk for autism is happening near you.
Spend time with someone who has autism
The one thing those affected by autism – whether it be the autistic individual themselves or the parents of a child with autism – want is for someone to accept them. Acceptance and awareness are largely what this entire month is about. Spending time with someone who has autism is a great way to show support during Autism Awareness Month.
A little love, support, and acceptance goes a long way. Do you have any plans for Autism Awareness Month this year?
[Featured Image by Chinnapong/Shutterstock]