April is Autism Inclusion Awareness Month, which kicks off with World Autism Inclusion Awareness Day on Thursday, April 2, 2020. For the past two years, We Rock the Spectrum has recognized this month as a time not only to be “aware” of the journey of autism. Rather, we choose to level up and tell the world what is needed. We need our children to be included. Therefore, Autism Inclusion Awareness Month and World Autism Inclusion Awareness day give us the opportunity to educate other people and raise awareness of what our comrades with autism need. When others better understand how to engage with someone with autism, it makes it easier to forge friendships so that those with special needs can live a more positive life.
The challenges that people with autism face can often make it difficult for them to interact with other people. Because someone with autism can have a difficult time recognizing and responding to emotions, they may seem distant or unfriendly. This makes it harder for them to forge the types of friendships that they want and need. That’s why it is important that we take the time to understand our differences.
Let’s take a closer look at Autism Inclusion Awareness Month, some of the common misconceptions that we can educate people about autism, and why the month is so important to help alleviate the challenges those with special needs face.
About Autism Inclusion Awareness Month
The Autism Society first declared April to be Autism Awareness Month in 1970. The goal then, as it is now, was to educate the public about autism and how it affects those who have it. The month is symbolized by the puzzle ribbon and the color blue. On World Autism Awareness Day in particular, people and businesses who want to participate will do so by lighting their buildings blue, wearing blue clothing, or wearing a puzzle ribbon.
Part of the goal of autism awareness is to help people understand what autism is and how those with it interact with others. They want to make friends but tend to have a harder time when it comes to social situations. Let’s look at some of the ways that autism can affect personality:
Communication – Autism can affect communication in various ways. There are cases where the person may even be non-verbal. This does not mean that they do not want to communicate. When speaking, those with special needs may speak in a monotone voice, repeat phrases over and over, or misunderstand common gestures.
Empathy – The ability to understand what someone else is feeling is an important social cue. People with autism often find it difficult to understand the emotions of others. Being compassionate and aware of this can help us understand how our words and actions are being communicated.
Physical contact – Often, those with autism do not like physical contact. They may shy away from or respond negatively to attempts at physical gestures such as hugs or handshakes.
Behavior – Autism can cause repetitive behavior. This could be as simple as a precise daily routine or something less ordinary like pacing around a room. If their routine is disrupted, it may cause them distress.
Misconceptions About Autism and Special Needs
Understanding the ways that autism affects people is important. If someone you encounter is behaving oddly, it may help you to understand them better and be less judgmental. Lack of understanding regarding how autism manifests itself can lead to a whole host of other misconceptions. April is the month that we focus on debunking these myths.
All people with autism have mental disabilities – Autism is not a mental health disorder, it is a neurological disorder. Individuals on the spectrum have a wide range of intellectual abilities, but testing them can be hard and results are often over- or under-estimated.
Autism is caused by vaccines – This is a common myth that is perpetuated by certain communities that fear vaccinations. The source comes from a 1998 study that linked autism to vaccines. That study has since been retracted for its flawed methodology and has been debunked numerous times through further studies.
Autism is caused by parenting style – Because children with autism do not respond as well to certain parenting styles, some people believe that the parenting style itself is to blame for the development of autism. While scientists do not know the exact causes of autism, they have conducted experiments that rule out parenting style as a contributing factor.
People with autism are more aggressive – It is unusual for someone with autism to act aggressive. Like all children, those with autism may lash out when they are distressed. When aggressive acts do occur, it is likely because the child was under emotional distress or sensory overload. That’s why it is important for them to involve in sensory play. All We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gyms around the world feature 10 pieces of specially designed equipment for children with special needs to get the sensory diet that they need.
People with autism are less affectionate – It is true that autism causes people to express emotion differently that others do. This may make them seem distant, or unfeeling. However, it is important to know that those with autism are fully capable of strong, loving relationships with friends and family that they care very deeply for.
Autism can be cured or outgrown – There is currently no cure for autism and it is not something that one outgrows. It is possible, however, that behavioral treatment can help them better manage their symptoms. As someone with autism enters adulthood, they will have learned many strategies for coping with the challenges that autism brings. By connecting with other special needs families at locations such as WRTS, children and their families learn the blessings of being part of the special needs community!
Why This Month is Important
It’s easy to see how people who do not understand autism may find it difficult to provide the type of welcoming environment that a person on the spectrum needs and deserves. Having social connections is an important and fulfilling part of anyone’s life, but the need for autism inclusion awareness goes beyond simply making friends. In order to lead a successful life, children need an education, they need to learn social skills, and they need to be able to effectively communicate.
By ensuring that the children and adults in the life of a child with autism fully understand, we can help them to get the most out of their education and learn to better communicate and support those with autism. This sets them up for a bright future where they are not defined or limited by their disabilities. We are proud to be a safe haven for ALL children and look forward to celebrating our differences this month!