April is Autism Awareness Month. I never knew what autism was and didn’t realize there was a month dedicated to it, until my son was diagnosed. Since my son’s autism diagnosis, I’ve learned that there are many misconceptions about autism. While some may question whether or not we need an Autism Awareness Month, autism is still a stigmatized disorder and needs all the awareness it can get. You don’t need to have a child with autism to raise awareness.
Here are a few ways you can raise awareness in your community and where on line:
1. What is autism? If you don’t know what autism is, now is the time to learn and share information. There are so many books for both adults and children. Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm is excellent for parents, family members and educators. And My Friend with Autism by Beverly Bishop is a wonderful resource for children and teachers.
2. Wear your support. The puzzle pin is the symbol for many autism organizations, as well as the color blue. You can wear your support by either wearing a pin or the color blue. When someone compliments what you’re wearing or asks about the puzzle – it can open up the conversation.
3. Walk in support. Autism Speaks has walks all over the country to raise money and awareness in support of autism. Sign up for one or join a team. By joining a team, you can raise money and share with others why you are walking. The day of the walk is always inspiring. It’s an opportunity to connect with families and individuals with autism.
4. Use social media to share your story. Talk about your child or loved one with autism on social media. Share what makes them special. Talk about how far they’ve come and how proud you are.
Autism impacts 1 in 68 children, yet there are many misconceptions about what autism is and what it is not. The more we talk about autism, the more aware others will become. Awareness leads to understanding. And that is what individuals with autism need.