April is Autism Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Autism Awareness month?

Autism is a brain disorder that can affect behavioral, mental and physical aspects of a person. Some symptoms of Autism are delayed functions, such as talking and walking. There are different forms of Autism from mild to severe. Some behavioral tendencies of people with Autism is that they do not like to be touched, some do not make eye contact and others may have attachments to objects such as strings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, about 1 in 68 children in the United States are identified as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This estimate, which came out March 27, is about 30 percent higher than the estimate of 1 in 88 children back in 2012. The data from the CDC website also reveal that males are more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than females, 1 in 42 boys as opposed to 1 in 189 girls.

Different organizations have their own unique way to raise awareness of Autism. For example, the Autism Society has designed a special ribbon for Autism awareness. According to autism-society.org, the ribbon is a puzzle piece pattern that represents the unknown information and difficulty of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The different colors of the ribbon represent the diverse Autistic population, while the bright colors of the ribbon symbolize hope.         

“[My son] was a great kid, it’s just that so many things bothered him. I had to learn what that was and how to prevent situations from escalating,” said Cathy Williams, a Forsyth County, Georgia resident, whose son is Autistic.”Support. Lots of support is good. Autism society meetings. And I went to UCP meetings, which stands for United Cerebral Palsy, but they had the support groups.”

Autism Speaks is an organization that has its own initiative in order to raise awareness for Autism. On April 2, you may have seen various structures cast in blue light. This was a part of a global initiative called “Light It up Blue.” According to autismspeaks.org, through “Light It up Blue,” Autism Speaks and other communities throughout the globe participate in the United Nations authorized World Autism Awareness Day. The Empire State Building, museums and other venues participated to help raise awareness of Autism. This is the sixth year that World Autism Awareness Day has taken place.

In the District of Columbia, several organizations aim to raise awareness about Autism not just during the month of April but throughout the year.

D.C. Autism Parents is a non-profit that helps to improve the lives of those with ASD through education, support, services and more.

Besides D.C. Autism Parents, there are also universities that have their own Autism awareness chapters through Autism Speaks U. This collegiate program allows universities to raise awareness throughout their campus communities, to fundraise and to host events such as  annual walks.

“I believe that having different awareness organizations would be a great way to inform students and the community about various topics that they may not know about,” said Howard University sophomore elementary education major Brionna Hines.

The D.C. chapter of Autism Speaks will host its annual Walk Now event on Oct. 5. The walk will be held on the National Mall. Funds raised during the walk will go toward awareness and advocacy. To learn more about the walk or more information about ASD you can visit http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org.