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Autism Education: What to Know About Autism Awareness Month

mother and child doing work together

April is designated as Autism Awareness Month to raise awareness of the neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. The purpose is to raise awareness of autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and to encourage acceptance of people diagnosed with the condition. With education and awareness, we can build a more accepting and helpful society for people with autism and their families via education and awareness.

In this article, we’ll go into more detail about what Autism Awareness Month is, why it’s important, and how we can support those with autism.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? | The National Center for Learning Disabilities

What Is Autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects a person’s behavior, interests, social interaction, and communication skills. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, people will experience its effects differently and to different degrees.

Some people with autism may struggle with social communication skills like making eye contact, recognizing and utilizing nonverbal clues, and forming friendships. They might exhibit constrictive and repetitive interests or behaviors, such as repeatedly becoming fascinated by a certain subject or object or performing routines or movements.

Kid partaking in fun reading and drawing activities with adult
Caretaker with a child helping them with activities (Source: Shutterstock)

Although the exact etiology, or cause, of autism is unknown, it is thought to result from hereditary and environmental factors. Autism is identified by a thorough assessment conducted by a healthcare professional.

The Autism Spectrum

Depending on the degree of the disorder and the person’s particular strengths and challenges, the specific behaviors and symptoms that an ASD individual experiences might differ greatly. Nevertheless, some typical behavioral traits frequently observed in people with ASD include:

Social communication problems: One of the defining characteristics of ASD is social communication problems, which can appear in various ways. For instance, a person with ASD could find it challenging to interpret and use nonverbal clues like body language and facial expressions. Also, they may struggle with verbal communication, which includes socially acceptable language use and starting or maintaining discussions.

Repetitive and limiting actions: People with ASD sometimes exhibit repeated activities or limiting interests. This can involve repetitive actions or routines, fixating on a certain subject or item, or arranging toys in order.

Sensitivities to certain sights, noises, or textures: Sensitivities to these items are a common symptom of this disorder. For instance, they can be sensitive to textiles, loud noises, or bright lights. This can easily overwhelm people with ASD.

Transition and change issues: People with ASD may struggle with regular or scheduled changes and transitions. When faced with unforeseen changes or having trouble adjusting to new situations, they may become disturbed or worried.

Behaviors that are difficult for others to handle: Some people with ASD may exhibit difficult behaviors like anger or self-harm. These actions could result from sensory overload, difficulties expressing requirements, or displeasure.

Remember that each person with ASD is unique and may not exhibit all of these behaviors. Some people with ASD could also possess qualities and skills that aren’t immediately obvious, including an extraordinary memory or outstanding creativity.

Misconceptions About Autism

The stigma, discrimination, and misunderstandings that can result from the widespread misconceptions about people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are numerous. False beliefs about people with ASD include the idea that they are helpless and will spend their entire lives relying on others.

This is not the case.

Even though people with ASD may experience particular difficulties in areas like social interaction, sensory sensitivity, and conduct, many also have a wide range of skills and abilities. For instance, some people with ASD have great talent in the arts, academics, sciences, or music. They might also have exceptional problem-solving or attention-to-detail abilities.

It’s critical to acknowledge that people with ASD have the potential to accomplish great things and significantly contribute to their communities and society at large. For example, many accomplished businesspeople, scientists, artists, and leaders are reported to be on the spectrum.

Misconceptions about autism | Kati Morton

One further incorrect assumption about people with ASD is that they lack empathy or social awareness. While people with ASD may find it difficult to communicate in certain ways, they are nonetheless capable of experiencing and expressing empathy in their own individual way. Even though they may have trouble communicating verbally or nonverbally, many people with ASD have deep emotional relationships with others.

Autism Resources

Many resources are available for people interested in learning more about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during Autism Awareness Month. Here are a few resources that may be helpful:

  1. Autism Society
  2. Autism Speaks
  3. National Institute of Mental Health
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  5. Autism Science Foundation
  6. Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Wrap Up

Autism is one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized neurological conditions that exist. That’s why Autism Awareness Month is so important: it shines a spotlight on this condition, providing an impetus for people to educate themselves to be more accepting, more empathetic, and more supportive of families who are impacted by this condition.

Why not take the time during Autism Awareness Month to learn more by referring to the resources listed above?