Remember April Is Autism Awareness Month

April 22, 2005

We dedicate each April as a time to raise awareness about the troubling and complex developmental disability known as autism. There is still much to learn about this disease, though doctors have determined autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that can affect everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or level of education.

Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls.

This neurological condition adversely impacts normal development of the parts of the brain that controls social interaction and communication skills. Autistic children and adults typically have difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communications, social interactions and leisure activities. Autism is considered a spectrum disorder, or a condition that has varying degrees of severity based on the individual. In other words, two children with the same diagnosis can act very differently from each other and have varying degrees of social and verbal proficiency.

People with autism process and respond to information in unique ways. People with autism generally display behaviors such as an insistence on routine, being alone, avoiding eye contact, uneven motor skills and lack of responses to verbal cues. These symptoms add to the common misconceptions associated with autism.

While children with autism have trouble communicating their needs and wants, one common and troubling myth is they can’t display signs of love and affection. During Autism Awareness Month, we should acknowledge these common misconceptions and realize that autism sufferers receive and process information differently than people without the disease. Individuals who have spent time with autistic children can certainly understand the developmental disability, but they also know the youths still show signs of love and affection.

Let’s try to make an effort to break through some of the stigmas associated with this difficult developmental condition, and realize that children and adults with autism still have the ability to communicate and show affection.