April is Autism Awareness Month, which means different things to different people. Is it a month to educate others about autism spectrum disorder? To support acceptance of those who have ASD? To push for research into what causes autism and what therapies hold the most promise?
The answer is simply: yes.
Autism awareness has grown tremendously since this month was first commemorated in 1970, but ASD advocates yearn for more research and support. There is still so much work to be done. In the United States, 1 in every 68 births results in an ASD diagnosis. While there is no cure, research shows that early intervention services — think from birth to 3 years old — can improve a child’s development. With more awareness comes improved opportunities for early diagnoses, and therefore better outcomes.
“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,” states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged.”
According to CDC research, ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but is about 4.5 times more common among boys than among girls. Among children identified with ASD who had IQ scores available, about a third also had intellectual disability.
This month, do your part to raise autism awareness in any number of fun and rewarding ways. Take in a sensory friendly film showing, participate in a local fundraiser walk, attend a seminar at a nearby university, or just sport your autism awareness puzzle-piece pin. In addition to raising awareness, participating will help provide a sense of community and serve as a reminder that you’re on this journey with others a lot like you.