Every 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is the perfect time to talk about this disability because the month of April is National Autism Awareness Month. According to the the National Autistic Society, if people are not well educated on this topic it can lead to “autistic people and families are at risk of being isolated and developing mental health problems.” Now more than ever we should take the time to properly educate individuals and raise awareness of this disorder that kids and adults alike deal with.
Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disability that is typically evident and diagnosed during adolescence. Signs may include inability to communicate and interact with others. Many people think that autism is like certain other disabilities where every person who is diagnosed with it has the same limitations and abilities. However, autism is a spectrum, meaning some individuals may be more severely impacted by the disability than others.
Some effects of autism include delayed learning of language, difficulty in making eye contact or holding a conversation, difficulty with executive functioning which relates to reasoning and planning, narrow intense interests, poor motor skills, and sensory sensitivities. Although there are many signs of it, autism is considered a hidden disability and you can not always tell if someone is autistic.
It can be very difficult for individuals with autism to function like others and to try to fit in. For example, according to the National Autistic Society, 34% of children on the autism spectrum say the worst thing about school is getting picked on. It is also a common struggle for parents of autistic children to find a school that meets and supports their educational and social needs. Transitioning from high school to college or a career path may be hard for people dealing with autism since a common effect is the lack of coping with changes. Another problem may be making and maintaining healthy relationships in life because of the common symptom such as trouble reading social clues and emotions.
Just because individuals with autism have it harder than most people to do simple everyday tasks, there are many individuals all over the world that go on to do outstanding things despite of their autism. Some famous people dealing with autism include Tim Burton, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson, Steve Jobs, Michelangelo, Mozart, Sir Isaac Newton, Jerry Seinfeld, Nikola Tesla, and Andy Warhol. If the great achievements from these famous people wasn’t inspiring enough, this quote definitely is. Rachel Barcellona, an actor with autism said that “Everyone has a mountain to climb and autism has not been my mountain, it has been my opportunity for victory.”
During this occasion of Autism Awareness Month, “Autism Speaks” is a nonprofit charity that raises money which goes toward supporting and helping autistic individuals and their families. I encourage you this month especially to acknowledge the people in your life with autism and give them your support, as well as perhaps donating to a charity for autism.