Blog #172~ Autism: 5 Ways You Can Help
The aim of Autism Awareness Month this year, 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 Down syndrome and autism. As April comes to a close this week, 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 each of you to open your mind and heart to people having autism, along with their families and caregivers.
Here are 5 things you can do to show acceptance and support:
*Open your heart, give a smile to a family struggling out in public with a child who has autism. If you are a praying person, say a prayer for compassion and tolerance.
*Reach out, pay a compliment or offer help, to a family who might be dealing with a difficult time 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.
*Teach your child about inclusivity. Invite a classmate with autism, 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! Share about autism on your social media.
Awareness and acceptance means allowing yourself 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 as Autism Awareness Month wraps up this week.
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