Are You Helping or Hurting? How to REALLY Raise Autism Awareness
The month of April is dedicated to Autism awareness with World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), which aims to put a spotlight on the hurdles that people with autism and their families face every day.Thanks to campaigns like this, the percentage of people who are actually unaware of autism is much smaller than it was just a decade ago.
And while things are moving in the right direction, there is still a great deal of misinformation that has evolved. Society’s misconceptions about autism range from outdated information to the absurd, and we must keep pushing for better awareness of what autism is, what it is not, and what can be done for those on the spectrum who need help.
Here are some ways you can help:
Know that awareness is not enough. Teach acceptance, early and often. Little kids learn from the adults around them. We must teach them that some people are not like them and this is not bad. Instead of tolerating or just being aware of autism, show your child he is amazing because of who he is, and not despite of his differences, but because of them.
Practice being compassionate. It’s difficult not to judge. We make innumerable judgments all day long, every day. But if you take a moment before you reactto somebody whose public behavior you find upsetting, you might understand and begin to respect that individual as a full and complete human being, with individual personalities, life experiences, goals, and preferences.
Understand that there are many ways to communicate. This means that one way is not better than another, it is only different. Speech therapists and society emphasize the need for all children to talk. However, communication comes in many different ways, and the importance should be on the ability to connect and let people know what your needs are in order to lead a fulfilling life.
Go outside your comfort zone. However uncomfortable, awkward, or annoying it may feel to deal with someone who communicates differently than you, it doesn’t begin to explain the pain felt when you go through the world isolated because people don’t want to understand you. Please imagine how it feels to keep meeting up with a world full of people who turn away, every day, because their discomfort overrides their willingness to connect.
Don’t think of autism as a disorder that needs to be fixed. When a person has a disability, that person is still a human being. That person with a disability has a body, a mind, interests, dreams, and goals, even if you can’t understand them. Autism is a disability; it is neither good nor bad. It just exists, and it’s up to us to make as much good from the condition as possible. A disorder can be cured or eliminated using treatment. This is not autism. A person with autism has the right to be who they are and to be accepted for who they are, without the need for a fix or a cure.
If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.
American Advocacy group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with Autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.