It’s April – Autism Awareness Month!

What is Autism?  It seems to be mentioned in the news almost daily.  Our families with children on the spectrum each have their unique understanding of Autism and how it has affected their lives and their children’s lives. However, does the public truly understand Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills and social reciprocity, repetitive behavior, deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, and unique strengths and differences. Autism’s most obvious signs tend to be seen between the ages of 2 and 3, such as when a parent notices that her child does not respond to her, engages in repetitive behavior, or concentrates on an object rather than interacting with parents and other family members.  However, some of the more subtle signs of autism may be overlooked or misunderstood in some children only to be diagnosed later in life.
There is a wide diversity among individuals with Autism.  Yet, our society seems to focus only on the myths, misconceptions, and challenges surrounding Autism. Let’s focus on some of the many strengths such as the ability to live in the moment and attend to detail, passion about an area of interest, and the ability to see the world from a unique perspective.  Greater awareness will hopefully lead to earlier detection and intervention as well as acceptance of individuals with Autism.

April is Autism Awareness Month and Autism’s Universal Symbol is a Ribbon made of puzzle pieces.  The puzzle pattern reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum.  The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with autism.  The brightness of the ribbon signals hope – hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and access to appropriate services and support, people with autism will lead full lives able to interact with the world around them on their own terms.

Let’s celebrate Autism Awareness Month and the unique children, adolescents, and adults who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder!

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