Autism touches everyone’s lives in some way, whether you have a child on the Spectrum, or it’s a bit less direct, like a neighbor or cousin. In honor of Autism Awareness Month, (also called Autism Acceptance Month), we wanted to share with our readers some opportunities to show support, love, and acceptance to the Autistic community.
The first step to accepting Autism and Autistic people is understanding what Autism really is. Right now, there’s a lot of stigma surrounding it. The media often portrays it as an epidemic and using the statistic as 1 in 59 people now being diagnosed with Autism as something that is scary or an emergency. People sympathize and pity parents of Autistic children rather than celebrate them.
Autism isn’t a disease, it’s not something to be pitied, and it’s not an epidemic. It’s a neurological variation that effects between one and two percent of the population, and while each Autistic person is a unique individual, there are some common characteristics:
It’s important to note that Autism Spectrum Disorder is just that – a “spectrum” – every person experiences it differently and it presents in a multitude of ways.
One of the most important ways to show Autism Acceptance is to show it on a personal level. This simply means being present and welcoming to Autistic people and their families.
A lot of families feel isolated due to Autism – they don’t get invited places, friends don’t visit, and it’s hard to be involved in the community. While sometimes this can be because of sensory issues or an aversion to certain places, much of it is simply society not being welcoming. For example, a child who flaps his or her hands when they are excited or overwhelmed is “distracting,” so parents feel obligated to leave, rather than the group accepting the family.
During Autism Awareness Month, there are plenty of ways to get involved! Join the Eastern Run/Walk for Autism here in Greenville on April 27th for a fun 5k for people of all ages and abilities.
If you want to donate, consider a local organization that provides more direct support and opportunities for Autistic people here in Greenville and North Carolina, such as The Autism Society of North Carolina.
At Children’s Campus in Greenville, we strive to provide a safe, caring environment for all children. To learn more about our 5-Star preschool program and more, call us at 252-756-8200 or fill out our contact form!
Note: We chose to use “Autistic” rather than “person with Autism” because many in the community consider it to be an essential part of their identity (like an athletic person, gifted person, Christian person, or tall person). While we also believe “people-first languauge” is important (ie: person with Autism), we chose identity-first language in this case.