Every April Autism Speaks celebrates World Autism Month, beginning with the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. This year marks the 15th annual World Autism Awareness Day.
Throughout the month, we focus on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support. This year, we are committed to creating a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential. Supporters can participate in World Autism Month by:
#1 – Take The Pledge
Take a pledge to create a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential by increasing understanding and acceptance. You’ll receive free information, resources and tools to engage and advocate in your community and learn the impact of your support through Autism Speaks.
#2 – Submit Your Story
Join our 2.8 million social followers and help foster understanding and acceptance by sharing the diverse stories of people on the spectrum or telling your own. Submit your story for our social media pages here.
#3 – Kindness Campaign
Invite your colleagues, classroom and friends to join our Kindness Campaign and encourage acceptance, understanding and inclusion with daily acts of kindness at school, work or in your community. Together, we can create a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential.
#4 – Donate Today
Make a meaningful, lasting impact on people with autism with your gift. It’s one of the easiest and best ways to show your support. Donate today!
#5 – Fundraise
Learn about all the ways you can fundraise on social media.
#6 – Light It Up in Blue
Joined by the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world come together on April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, to Light It Up Blue in recognition of people with autism and those who love and support them.
What is Autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children in the United States today.
We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues. Signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.
Symptoms Of Autism
Symptoms of autism may:
- begin in early childhood (though they may go unrecognised)
- persist and
- interfere with daily living.
Specialised healthcare providers diagnose autism using a checklist of criteria in the two categories above. They also assess autism symptom severity. Autism’s severity scale reflects how much support a person needs for daily function. Many people with autism have sensory issues. These typically involve over- or under-sensitivities to sounds, lights, touch, tastes, smells, pain and other stimuli. Autism is also associated with high rates of certain physical and mental health conditions.
The core symptoms of autism are:
- social communication challenges and
- restricted, repetitive behaviors.
Social Communication Challenges
Children and adults with autism have difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication. For example, they may not understand or appropriately use:
- Spoken language (around a third of people with autism are nonverbal)
- Eye contact
- Facial expressions
- Tone of voice
- Expressions not meant to be taken literally
Additional social challenges can include difficulty with:
- Recognising emotions and intentions in others
- Recognising one’s own emotions
- Expressing emotions
- Seeking emotional comfort from others
- Feeling overwhelmed in social situations
- Taking turns in conversation
- Gauging personal space (appropriate distance between people)
Restricted and repetitive behaviors
Restricted and repetitive behaviors vary greatly across the autism spectrum. They can include:
- Repetitive body movements (e.g. rocking, flapping, spinning, running back and forth)
- Repetitive motions with objects (e.g. spinning wheels, shaking sticks, flipping levers)
- Staring at lights or spinning objects
- Ritualistic behaviours (e.g. lining up objects, repeatedly touching objects in a set order)
- Narrow or extreme interests in specific topics
- Need for unvarying routine/resistance to change (e.g. same daily schedule, meal menu, clothes, route to school)
Contact Balanced Healing to assist with lab samples and Autism Game Plan for your child.