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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

April is Autism Awareness Month


The month of April has been recognized as Autism Awareness month for 30 years. A diagnosis of someone being on the spectrum of the Autism disorder has climbed steadily over the past few decades. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education and National Center for Education statistics, the number of children in calendar year 2000 diagnosed with Autism was 93,000. At the end of school year 2016, the number of children had grown to over 617,000 diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

There is so much to learn about Autism. As such, as an organization we have begun a cooperative working relationship with the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine working with various research entities involved with both family and genetic research.

While still a work in progress, our collective teams are working toward creating the most robust offering of clinical and research support in the Midwest dealing with Autism. Our goals are not only broaden the availability of key services, but help families better understand Autism as it affects them. There will be more to share in the near future, but we recognize that there is so much more to learn as we strive to help individuals and families affected by ASD.

The diagnoses of Autism is growing at pace now stated at 1 in 40 children. Because of this, this month provides a platform to share important information about Autism. While some of this was documented and shared last year, our hope is that this provides an opportunity to let others gain potential education on something they many know a little about.

Important things to know about Autism include:

  • The term Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are often used interchangeably. A wide spectrum disorder, people with Autism have a set of symptoms unique to themselves: no two people are the same.
  • While no two people are the same, there are common characteristics with this complex disability. Briefly, these characteristics include:
    • Social Skills – people with Autism have problems interacting with others; autistic children do not have adequate playing and talking skills. Symptoms range from clumsy behavior, being out of sync with those around them, and not being interested in others.
    • Empathy – not having the ability to recognize and understand the feelings of another person
    • Physical Contact – in some cases, not liking physical contact such hugs, tickling, or physical play with others
    • Sudden Changes to their Environment – a sudden change which affects an individual’s senses. Anything from a loud noise, a change in lighting, or even a change in smell
    • Speech – a type of speech where the person repeats words and phrases, or uses a monotone way of communicating
    • Changes to Behavior and Routine – people with Autism often display repetitive behavior which they repeat the same action many times over, which could be interpreted as an obsession.

In sharing the information above, the intent is to help create a better informed public and in doing so help others become more empathetic and supportive for those dealing with these challenges. I truly hope you find this information of value and on behalf of those we serve and their families, please know how much we appreciate your understanding and support!

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Mike Briggs
Mike Briggshttp://littlefriendsinc.org
Mike Briggs is the President and CEO of Little Friends. Little Friends empowers clients with autism and other developmental disabilities to thrive in our community. Their groundbreaking programs and nationally-renowned staff provide lifelong opportunities for growth, so their clients can work, learn, play and experience the joy of life’s everyday moments.

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