April is Autism Awareness month. People all over the globe will be Lightning It Up Blue to shine a bright light on autism on World Autism Awareness Day, April 2nd.
So what exactly is Autism? Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that there is much variation in the way that it presents itself. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects an individual’s social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive or restrictive behaviors. The incidence of autism is high. 1 in 68 children in the United States will be given this diagnosis. We know this disorder all too well as our daughter Danielle was diagnosed with non-verbal autism shortly after her 4th birthday. Perhaps, you know someone with autism. Perhaps there is a family in your parish with autism.
Here are some things to keep in mind during this month of autism awareness:
1. Families of children with autism are dealing with a lot. They are doing the best they can under very trying circumstances.
2. Families are often under severe stress. They may feel isolated, exhausted and overwhelmed. They may not know where to turn for help.
3. They may be undergoing struggles regarding their faith.
4. Sometimes it’s challenging just to get out the door with their child with autism. They are often concerned about noise, crowds, and other sensory issues. They may be worried that their child will be disruptive to others.
5. They know that some people will misconstrue and attribute their child’s behaviors to “bad parenting.”
So in honor of Autism Awareness month let’s all do our best to be attuned to the challenges people with autism and their families face. Given the statistics there is a high likelihood that you will come across someone with autism in your travels whether at the store, school, church, even at the park or beach.
Your kind demeanor and reactions can make a big difference! When you see others lighting it up blue on April 2nd, you will know that they are doing this to shine a bright light on autism on World Autism Awareness Day.