Autism Awareness Month Presents Opportunity for Change


Graphic by Anisa Tran

April is usually known for bringing showers and May flowers; however, it also brings awareness of the developmental disorder, autism. April is Autism Awareness Month, and there’s no better time to learn about autism.

Autism Awareness Month was founded in 1970 by the Autism Society. The month was initially created to raise awareness about autism and ensure that all people who are on the autism spectrum are able to live their best lives to the fullest; since then, April has been recognized as Autism Awareness Month and aims to encourage acceptance and ignite change.

Knowing exactly what autism is provides a good base to build awareness around it. According to the National Institution of Mental Health (NIMH), autism is “a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave.” The disorder is distinguished by persistent deficits in social communication and interaction across multiple contexts, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. Despite the fact that autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is considered a developmental disorder due to the fact that autism symptoms usually appear during the first two years of one’s life. Autism is usually described as a spectrum; this is because there are a plethora of ways people can experience having autism.

As humans, it’s normal to crave connections, but forming and maintaining them can be difficult for people on the spectrum due to them having difficulties with socializing. However, there are things people can do to help make this so much easier for people with autism. One of the key things is being patient and understanding; this can go a long way. Be aware of the fact that people with autism may tend to speak at length about their favorite topics; this may require a bit of gentle redirecting and prompting in conversations with them. Another thing to keep in mind is that people with autism tend to take things very literally, so it’s best to avoid idioms and jokes that may be taken offensively. Compassion and encouragement is essential.

It’s important to remember that these individuals see the world differently from others, and that being gentle toward someone who has autism can make the world a kinder place for them.
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