April is Autism Awareness Month. In 2018, the CDC determined that nearly 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Broken down by gender, this is 1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls. What this means for a mainstream society is that it is time to bring greater attention and education to the autism community.
What Is Autism?
Due to the high number of individuals being diagnosed on the autism spectrum, there is a very good chance that you know someone who is autistic. In fact, you probably know several people that fall on the spectrum. And due to the high diversity of how autism lives through different people, you may know several people on the spectrum that have the same diagnosis – although they are very different versions of autism.
When asking, what is autism – the complexity of the disorder becomes evident. There is no one single type of autism. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that there are many subtypes of the disorder that are influenced by a combination characteristics and behavioral classifications. It also means that there is truly no simple way to diagnose, define, treat or provide appropriate accommodations to individuals who fall within the spectrum.
Why Is Autism Awareness Important?
There are many reasons why Autism Awareness is important. First, it is difficult to understand differences when we are not aware they exist. Since individuals diagnosed with autism show a dynamic variety of characteristics and behavioral patterns, the public at large may not understand that certain behaviors are in fact, connected with the diagnosis and not just seen as inappropriate, eyebrow-raising, misbehavior or confusing. Without community awareness, there is very little empathy and very little support available. This means minimal acceptance.
Another reason Autism Awareness is important is because it is still highly studied. Research is expensive. However, research is also imperative. Without knowledge, there is no way to create environments that lead to a life-long path of independence and success. There is also no way to create resources for individuals, and their families to depend on. Autism Awareness creates empathy, but it also creates an opportunity for support.
How Can I Get Involved?
April is celebrated as Autism Awareness month. And throughout April, you will see invitations to attend fundraising events, wear your puzzle piece proudly (the symbol of Autism Awareness), or make monetary donations to various Autism Awareness organizations.
Locally, there are also other ways you can support Autism Awareness, all year long. First, Campos Family Vineyards has a Red Blend that carries the label that has come to represent Autism for the Campos Family Vineyards community. With the purchase of a bottle of Gigi’s Blend, 10% of the proceeds will be donated to The Temple Grandin Foundation, which is an organization focused entirely on supporting individuals with Autism and their families.
You can also become involved with All Ability Awareness Week at local elementary schools, where autism – and other disorders and disabilities are presented to students through a variety of different models to create understanding, awareness and acceptance.
If you take the time to explore Autism Speaks (www.autismspeaks.org), you will also see a variety of ways you can get involved. The best part is, there are many ways to become engaged that do not cost you money – but ask for your time and commitment to events, advocacy efforts, and partnerships. If you visit Autism Speaks, you will also see the opportunity to “Go Blue” to increase global understanding and acceptance of people with autism.
April is World Autism Month. We invite you to become involved – whether it is by shopping for products that support various non-profit organizations, offering monetary donations, or providing your time, there are ways throughout the year become engaged. Even more exciting, becoming involved could be something as simple as asking questions, learning more about the spectrum disorder or just slowing down and appreciating the rich diversity that Autism gifts to the world.