Autism Awareness Month
What is Autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children in the United States today.
We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.
Signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.
* In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four distinct autism diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.
What is World Autism Month?
Every April Autism Speaks celebrates World Autism Month, beginning with United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Throughout the month, we focus on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support. This year, we are committed to creating a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential.
How can I participate?
Everyone is encouraged to participate. Whether you have autism, love someone who does, or are looking to support a diverse, accepting and kind community – you’re invited to take the pledge to help create a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential.
Supporters can participate in the initiative by visiting autismspeaks.org/wam where they can:
- Visit autismspeaks.org/WAM and take the pledge to create a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential by increasing understanding and acceptance. You’ll receive free information, resources and tools to engage and advocate in your community and learn the impact of your support through Autism Speaks.
- Join our 2.8 million social followers and help foster understanding and acceptance by sharing the diverse stories of people on the spectrum or telling your own. Submit your story for our social media pages here.
- Invite your colleagues, classroom and friends to join our Kindness Campaign and encourage acceptance, understanding and inclusion with daily acts of kindness at school, work or in your community. Together, we can create a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential.
- Make a meaningful, lasting impact for people with autism with your gift. It’s one of the easiest and best ways to show your support. Donate today!
- Learn about all the ways you can fundraise on social media.
Source: Autism Speaks