April is the National Autism Awareness Month and April 2, 2017 is the ninth annual World Autism Awareness Day. This month represents an excellent opportunity to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder. In the United States 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) are having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). And more than 3.5 million Americans live with this disorder.
Prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability.
What can we do for the kids and people with Autism?
Accept them as they are - Feeling unconditionally loved and accepted will help your child or family member more than anything else. Rather than focusing on how our kids and family members are different from others and what he or she is “missing,” practice acceptance. Enjoy the time with them, celebrate small successes, and stop comparing them to others.
Learn about autism - Figure out what triggers your kid’s or family member challenging or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your child or family member find stressful or frightening? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand their behavior, you’ll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing or modifying situations that cause difficulties.
Don’t give up - It’s impossible to predict the course of autism spectrum disorder. Don’t jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your child or family members. Like everyone else, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.
Love, rejoice and make breakthroughs - Once you get in sync with your child’s or family member’s world, find ways to gently broaden it. Enrich their experience. Give them physical activities they might not choose on their own so they can feel how their bodies move in space. Help them channel their special interests into skills. Build bridges between your way of experiencing and theirs. Help them expand their comfort zone and means of communicating. Give them room to find their own inner rhythms and feelings. Then step back, let their creativity flow, and celebrate.