World Autism Awareness Day Offers Chance to Learn
It's World Autism Awareness Day, and April is Autism Awareness Month.
Why should that matter to you?
Here's what you need to know about autism:
- The CDC reports 1 in 50 school-age children have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a term that covers many brain development disorders
- Boys are about 5 times more likely than girls to have autism
- There is no cure for autism, nor a medical test to diagnose it.
Today, people will 'light it up blue' for autism. You may see blue logos and photos on Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media sites. You may see blue lights on homes and buildings. You may notice a lot of people wearing blue today.
Why blue? It is the official color of Autism Speaks, the largest autism advocacy organization.
Going blue is supposed to raise awareness of ASD, which affects more and more families every day.
Last summer, I shared Eileen from Wall's story, showing what a typical day is like for her as a parent of a child with autism.
Eileen has taught me a lot about autism in the simplest of ways.
She always refers to 'her son with autism' instead of her 'autistic son' because autism does not solely define him. She also said, 'if you have met one kid with autism, you have only met one. All of them are different.'
I asked her what she wants people who aren't affected by autism to be aware of today. She said,
I guess one thing I would like folks to remember is that all these cute kids we are fighting for are going to grow up. There is a massive amount of adults with autism ahead of us. So this is why it is so important to help prepare kids now. We parents aren't just doing this for kicks. We're trying to get our kids off to the best possible start.'
Wondering what you can do to help? Well, first of all, don't be afraid to learn. Don't make judgments or ignorant statements, instead, ask honest questions about autism if you have them.
Of course you can donate to an organization like Autism Speaks, but there are a ton of more local Autism Awareness groups like Autism New Jersey, and Parents of Autistic Children (POAC) that also need help.
More importantly, remember that for families dealing with ASD, everyday is Autism Awareness Day.