Thanks to Noelle from our kitting team for putting together this super helpful autism awareness guide. It is full of information and activities!!
Happy World Autism Awareness Day
While this is the 10th year of World Autism Awareness Day, it’s important to note that Autism Awareness does not end after April 2nd. For those of us who make up the Autism community as parents, caregivers and educators, we are constantly looking for ways to engage, educate and spread awareness.
May we all continue to spread that awareness and show kindness to all those who are different from us.
“Autism is not a puzzle, nor a disease. Autism is a challenge, but certainly not a devastating one.”
-Trisha Van Berkel (Autism Parenting Magazine)
What is Autism–
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.
A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.
What is World Autism Awareness Day (a backstory) –
Did you know that the United Nations declared April 2nd World Autism Awareness Day?
Throughout its history, the United Nations family has celebrated diversity and promoted the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities, including learning differences and developmental disabilities. In 2008, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force, reaffirming the fundamental principle of universal human rights for all. Its purpose is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. It is a vital tool to foster an inclusive and caring society for all and to ensure that all children and adults with autism can lead full and meaningful lives.
The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day (A/RES/62/139) to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society.
Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood, irrespective of gender, race or socioeconomic status. The term Autism Spectrum refers to a range of characteristics. Appropriate support, accommodation and acceptance of this neurological variation allow those on the Spectrum to enjoy equal opportunity, and full and effective participation in society.
Autism is mainly characterized by its unique social interactions, non-standard ways of learning, keen interests in specific subjects, inclination to routines, challenges in typical communications and particular ways of processing sensory information.
The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and the lack of understanding has a tremendous impact on the individuals, their families and communities.
The stigmatization and discrimination associated with neurological differences remain substantial obstacles to diagnosis and therapies, an issue that must be addressed by both public policy-makers in developing nations, as well as donor countries.
Ways to Find Autism Awareness Events –
Community Events – A host of different non-profit organizations will be hosting walks, donation events and autism friendly events and more for not only Autism Awareness Day, but the month of April. A site that I like to use to find events in my area is Eventbrite. Im sure you can use Eventbrite to find some events happening in your area.
Not sure where or how to get involved? I found Charity Navigator in my search. It’s a pretty great resource you can use to find not-for-profits to donate to.
Start A Walk. Have A Conversation. Be An Advocate –
Having conversations to dispel myths and address misunderstandings is key. It helps to build a community of understanding and awareness. Knowledge is key and when we know better, we do better. Sometimes, in talking to other people about Autism, you will inevitably come across people who have family members or people close to them who are autistic.
If you are having trouble finding a autism walk or a autism event to attend in your area, start your own walk. Organize your own event. Reach out to people you may know, parents or caregivers. It takes a community after all.
Autism in entertainment–
Representation matters! Here’s a list of a few shows that have characters with Autism.
- Atypical is a really sweet Netflix original series about an autistic teenage boy named Sam, who is trying to navigate teenage independence, love and high school. It is a really great binge watch and I found out that it was renewed for a 2nd season.
- The Good Doctor is a medical drama about surgeon named Shaun who is autistic, who is also diagnosed as being a Savant, who becomes a member of a very prestigious hospital. Check your local listings for more info.
- Sesame Street added their first autistic muppet named Julia in 2017. What makes Julia pretty unique is that not only is Julia one of the few autistic female characters we have seen represented on a popular show like Sesame Street. Additionally, Julia is voiced by puppeteer, Stacy Gordon who also happens to be the mother of an Autistic child. Check your local listings for more info.
Autism Friendly Concerts and More….
Music for Autism
Music for Autism is enhancing quality of life and raising public awareness through autism-friendly, interactive concerts developed specifically for individuals with autism and their families. The concerts feature professional musicians, including Tony Award winners, Grammy-nominated classical artists, and Pulitzer Prize winners. To ensure equal access for all, every Music for Autism concert is fully subsidized. Families note that the concerts help fill a major psychosocial void, enabling them to enjoy enriching activities that are inclusive and to experience the joy and power of music as a family.
Sensory Sensitive Sundays at Chuck E. Cheese
Chuck E. Cheese is proud to support families who have children with autism and special needs. We now offer a sensory- friendly experience on the first Sunday of every month. Our trained and caring staff is there to make sure each guest has a fun filled visit.
(via the www.chuckecheese.com)
***Check out this link https://www.chuckecheese.com/deals-offers/sensory-sensitive-sundays to find details and locations.
TDF Autism Friendly Performances
Each show is performed in a friendly, supportive environment for families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues.
Slight adjustments to the production are made, including reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe and spot lights that shine into the audience. House lights are faintly dimmed but remain on. Quiet and activity areas staffed with autism specialists are available in the lobby areas for those who need to leave their seats during the performance.
To personalize the experience for attendees, downloadable social narratives (in Word format) with pictures of the theatres and productions are available in advance of the performances. TDF also produced a video social narrative that describes how best to navigate Times Square.
***Check out the link https://www.tdf.org/nyc/40/Autism-Theatre-Initiative-TDF-Theatre-Accessibility-Program-Tap to find out more details.
And more . . .
Wanted to leave off with a few extra little helpful, good to knows for ya.
Ok, so if you haven’t introduced yourself to Pinterest, ya need to. It’s such a great site that contains a plethora of different diy activities and projects that are super Autism friendly.
Be careful, once you start clicking, swiping and searching, it’s pretty hard to stop.
My son is 5 and loves to color, on my walls, on the floor, in a book, wherever. Adafruit carries a pretty cool coloring book. Not only is it a kid friendly activity to explore and learn the world electronics, it is also a great motor skill activity.