Every year, autism organizations around the world come together to raise awareness, making April, World Autism Month. There are many ways you can show your support and greater understanding, so let’s take a look at all the ways you can join the cause in “lighting it up blue” all month long… and more importantly, why it’s important to raise awareness.
Did you know Autism now affects 1 in 68 children, 1 in 42 boys, and is 5 times more likely to occur in boys than in girls? (autismspeaks.org)
You may find yourself wondering what is Autism and why is everyone wearing blue? Those with an autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. In fact, a person with ASD may not even respond to their name, avoid eye contact, and show very little to no interest in things. These children and adults handle information in their brain much differently than those who are referred to as “normal.” This is where the term “spectrum disorders” derive from – meaning each person is affected in different ways, and can range from mild to severe.
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability that has a 1,148% growth rate with 10-17% annual growth. (executivehm.com) You may think to yourself, these are very large numbers, but what do they mean? Well, each year reports of autism grows more than 10%. Now, if there was a known cause or cure for autism perhaps this growth could be controlled…. However, there isn’t. Research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and environmental influences – however, not everyone with such influences have developed the disorder. It’s important to realize there is no cure for autism but early diagnosis and the correct support can ensure that people can live fulfilling lives.
If we can’t help, if I’m not affected, why should I support it? Well, I’m going to throw a few facts your way, just bear with me:
- One in five children with autism has been excluded from school.
- 40% of children with autism have been bullied at school
- In schools, only 22% of teachers have autism training.
- Less than 1 in 4 young people with autism continue their education beyond school
- At least one in three adults with autism experience severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.
- Autism is a LIFE LONG condition.
If we can’t cure autism, we need to accept it! This is what we raise awareness for. A person with autism does feel love, happiness, sadness, and pain, just like everyone else. Have you ever seen that puzzle pattern? It reflects the mystery and complexity of autism; it signifies that those with autism and those of us who support autism are putting “one piece of the puzzle together at a time.” Autism is NOT a disease, but they see the world from a different perspective. The myth that autistic children and adults can’t feel “things” is just that…. a myth.
Light It Up Blue
Every year on April 2nd, people all over the world “shine a light” on autism by wearing blue and/or shining bright blue lights outside their homes. By doing so, we can raise awareness about autism to not only public figures to help initiate support, but to our communities. In addition, it helps support autism research. In finding out what causes autism, we are helping people with autism progress.
Finally, and most importantly, it shows those in our autism community that they’re not alone. Many, many times those affected by autism do not feel connected to the community and feel very alone. By showing your support with the Light It Up Blue campaign, you are giving people who are affected a light to look toward.
“Having autism doesn’t mean we don’t have talents, we just need you to help us discover them.” –Jacob Velazquez