What is Autism Awareness Month?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. More than 3.5 million Americans currently live with ASD, and 1 in 68 children are born with a variation of it, so it’s likely you know, whether or not you’re aware of it, someone on the autism spectrum.

The first National Autism Awareness Month occurred in April of 1970. Nearly 50 years later, April is still celebrated as a time to raise awareness around the differences of those on the spectrum, supporting people and educating the public on autism.

As changes in civil rights laws have helped more people with disabilities pursue employment, attitudes toward people with disabilities are also changing. Creating a truly integrated society; one in which people of all abilities live and work together, starts with good communication.

One of the most difficult things about autism is the judgment of other people. I have come to understand over the past decade that empathy is a learned skill – the ability to understand the viewpoint of another human being is not natural for a lot of people. 

Making sure there is a quiet space at parties, making sure you keep to plans, making sure you offer help to someone who looks confused rather than gawping at them really are things that we have to think about; they don’t come naturally to a lot of us.

But what can you do to participate and how can you help support the cause?

Wear Blue on Autism Awareness Day

On April 2 this year, wear your favorite blue shirt to help raise awareness for this important day. Posting on social media with the hashtag #LIUB is a great way to show your support!

Share the Puzzle.

The most recognizable symbol of autism awareness is the Puzzle Ribbon. Sharing the ribbon (whether on your backpack, car, refrigerator or social media) is an easy way to stand with people on the autism spectrum, and provide education and advocacy for those who may not know quite as much about people with autism.

I think: amid the intensity of modern life; amid the bustle of city streets and crowded shops; amid the sheer intensity of existence in the 21st century, it is incredibly worthwhile to notice other people, to see people who may be struggling and to make an effort to help, or even just make a space where they can help themselves. I just feel that empathy is a skill we all have to spend time learning. A better world for people on the autistic spectrum is a better world for us all.


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