April is internationally recognized as Autism Awareness Month. Pictures from the famous “Light it Up” campaign are currently flooding social media sites, and celebrities such as Adam Sandler are donating big bucks to well–known organizations. However, if you want to do more than share a “Light it Up” picture but don’t have a lot of money to donate, there are some more creative ways to participate in autism awareness month.
A Few Autism Facts And Statistics For Autism Awareness Month:
Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births. (CDC, 2014)
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. (CDC, 2008)
Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention. (Autism Society estimate based on Government Accounting Office Report on Autism, 2006)
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges…people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged.” –CDC
People with autism are all different and having autism doesn’t mean you can’t find success. Alexandra Adlawan was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum at age 15. She is now the author and illustrator of the children’s book series, The Adventures of Maddie and Albert. Here’s what she wants people to know about autism. She says, “It’s important to remember that you also can’t see autism. When you are autistic, people look at you and think ‘I don’t see anything wrong with you.’ It’s hard to have a disability that no one can see, like a broken leg. People might make assumptions about you that aren’t true.”
3 Creative Ways to Participate in Autism Awareness Month
Make a Video Presentation
The National Autism Association is consistently requesting video stories of autistic patients (preferably created by loved ones). Video is an effective way of communication. Plus video puts a face to the number for those who are not personally effected by autism. It ultimately leads to better funding for researchers and doctors. Getting in touch with your creative side and teaching your kids how to make neat videos with a purpose are just bonuses.
Almost every non-profit hosts 5k races, so you might be thinking what’s so special about these? The answer is that they’re not just 5k races. Autism Speaks hosts running races, cycling races, swimming races, AND triathlons. Pick your favorite sport, or all three! You get to play, stay fit, and do good for the world all at the same time.
Okay, you caught me. There’s nothing super special about this option. But who doesn’t like an excuse to buy new things? It doesn’t get better than guilt-free shopping. You can get yourself a new fitted tee, your kids matching outfits, or fill up everyone’s stocking with autism awareness key chains and jewelry this Christmas. Shop now, relax later. Just use a search engine with the term “shop to support autism”.
At Beloved Bath, people with autism are integrating into the workforce while providing beauty lovers the self-care tools to feel better. The mom-founded candle and bath brand is working hard to change the narrative that individuals with autism are not employable. Pat Miller and Pam Kattouf first met on the playground over 20 years ago and have sons with profound autism. They know firsthand the challenges and the possibilities, making it their mission to provide engaged employment for people with all levels of autism. Pretty cool!
If you are a parent of a child with special needs, you might find these resources helpful:
- Cerebral Palsy Family Network – a compassionate community that provides resources for loved ones with Cerebral Palsy.
- Financial Planning for Kids with Special Needs information from the Herald Tribune.
- Colleges for People with Developmental Disabilities – more and more colleges are opening their doors to people with IDD.
- ADHD Self Esteem Issues – and what helps.
- Autism Society– supports federal policies and initiatives that facilitate greater access to the workforce and increase the employment rate for people with Autism.
- Turning Autism into Awesomism– A mom shares her awesome journey with her autistic son.
Have you tried any of these creative ways to participate in autism awareness? Are there any other creative ways you’ve participated in Autism Awareness Month?