Blog #172~ Autism: 5 Ways You Can Help
The aim of Autism Awareness Month, is to educate the public about autism. How do you react when you see or meet a person that has autism? Autism is a complex mental condition and developmental disability, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with other people. People with autism are classed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the terms autism and ASD are often used interchangeably. A wide spectrum disorder, people will autism have set of symptoms unique to themselves; no two people are the same.
My son Nick is 23 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS -ASD). During the month of April, I want to touch on autism awareness and acceptance. Since the aim this month is to educate the public about autism, I would like to challenge you to open your mind and heart to individuals with autism, along with their families and caregivers.
Here are 5 easy things you can do to show acceptance and support for autism:
*Open your heart, give a smile to a family struggling out in public with a child or adult who has autism. Offer up good thoughts and prayers , for compassion, strength, patience and tolerance.
*Reach out, pay a compliment or offer help, to a family who might be dealing with a difficult situation with their child. “You have a lovely family.” “You are a wonderful parent, I admire your patience.” If you encounter a family going through a tough time, such as a meltdown, or if the child is shutting down, ask them “What can I do to help?”
*Be a friend, make a phone call to check in, set up a coffee or lunch date, or offer to help out with carpooling or running an errand. Bring a bottle of wine or a Starbucks latte, over and chat. Many parents may not get a chance to speak to other adults on a daily basis and often feel isolated.
*Teach your child about inclusivity. Invite a classmate with autism, over for a play date or to your child’s birthday party. Show that they are genuinely welcome, even if their child can only tolerate a short time. Look into inclusion opportunities for your child at school like lunch buddy or peer partner programs and volunteering for Special Olympics. These are all ways to teach your child to be kind and compassionate.
It’s great to see that Sesame Street just added a new muppet, Julia who has autism!
*Stand up and advocate, if you overhear someone saying something inconsiderate about autism or any other disability, speak up. Some people may not understand the unusual behaviors exhibited by individuals with autism. Some of these behaviors are sensory related. For example rocking and hand flapping is a coping mechanism that helps organize the brain. Some individuals with autism become overwhelmed in stimulating environments. This may lead to a person shutting down or having a meltdown. Better understanding of such behaviors and their causes, leads to You can help advocate by sharing information about autism on your social media.
Awareness and acceptance means allowing yourself and teaching others to be open, compassionate and kind. Acceptance is not about tolerating others that are different from you. It is about valuing our differences as human beings, and seeing the heart and strengths that lies in each of us. That’s what is in my noggin during Autism Awareness Month.
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