The first National Autism Awareness month was held in April of 1970. Since then Autism has become the fastest growing developmental disability in the world. In 2023, the CDC reported that approximately 1 in 36 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to 2020 data. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with Autism than girls.The name was officially changed from Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month in 2021, although both names continue to be used and both convey widely held goals. April 2nd is World Autism Day.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. There is still a lot we don’t know about Autism, including the cause. According to the CDC, scientists believe that there are various factors that work together to affect the development of those with Autism.
Those with Autism may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. Like its name states, Autism is a Spectrum Disorder. Therefore those with Autism have varying abilities. For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversation skills whereas others may be nonverbal. Some people with ASD need considerable help in their daily lives and will need lifelong support and care. Others can work and live with little to no support. Some people with Autism may also have other conditions such as ADHD, seizures or sleep disorders. Unfortunately, Autism is often portrayed incorrectly in the media such as in movies or television. The media’s tendency to only highlight cases of Autism in which people have quirky characteristics or some amazing hidden talent, like instantly calculating the exact day someone was born based on the date, undermines the need to raise awareness for those who may have more advanced needs.
We still have a long way to go to ensure that those with Autism have all the available resources and support they need. Society has made some progress since we first learned about Autism. Children with Autism now attend schools with their peers. Adults who were once institutionalized because of the lack of understanding of Autism and resources available can now live in regular communities with support, or independently. The more we’re aware of what it’s like to live with Autism, the more we can support, show compassion and acceptance for those individuals and their families. There is a saying that if you’ve met one person with Autism, you have met one person with Autism. That is because like the rest of us each, each individual with Autism is unique and deserves the same opportunities and privileges like the rest of society.