Autism Awareness Month
April 1 marked the beginning of the celebration of National Autism Awareness Month. Each year communities across the country thoughtfully draw attention to our fellow citizens living with autism, as well as the contributions and sacrifices of their family, friends, and caregivers. An abundance of resources for anyone connected to a person with autism, or for the general education of our citizens, exist. Even more, we acknowledge the organizations and programs dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those living with autism.
Autism Awareness Month is particularly unique as social distancing in the midst of COVID-19 has prevented hundreds of events planned for this celebratory month from taking place. The Autism Society of America shares that they had to cancel over 350 fundraising events, community supports, programs, and services across the country.
Although social distancing has prevented these in-person events, AIM Services, and all those celebrating those with autism, understand that recognition must go on! As the number of children diagnosed with autism grows, 1 in 54 in 2020 as compared to 1 in 125 in 2010, it is the duty of all those who support people with autism to dedicate themselves to community education. From Upstate New York to Long Island, AIM Services supports hundreds of individuals with autism. Throughout these regions, our organization operates with an emphasis on social awareness and inclusion for those with autism.
In the face of great adversity, recognition and the promotion of awareness for those with autism has continued throughout the United States. Below are a handful of amazing examples of how awareness and appreciation has persevered in the name of National Autism Awareness Month throughout the country:
1. The Autism Society has a website dedicated to National Autism Awareness Month. Resources abound for awareness and recognition of those with autism. The Autism Society has also created a toolkit for those supporting people with autism during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Resources include information on mental health and respite, education tools, tips on modifying routines, lifestyle supports, and public policy information. There is also a Facebook Live series that is dedicated to providing relevant, COVID-19 information for the autism community. Now that is inclusion!
2. Sheletta Brundidge, an author, mother, and advocate for people with autism, coauthored Cameron Goes to School. This is the true story of her daughter, Cameron, who has autism and is preparing for her first day of kindergarten. The book ends with a page listing ten fun facts about children with autism, written by a child with autism. Watch the video of Sheletta reading Cameron Goes to School aloud. It is a hope of Sheleeta’s that this book will be read by Michele Obama as she reads stories aloud to children on Mondays on PBS. What an amazing way to recognize people with autism!
3. Autism Speaks has announced Steps for Kindness on April 25. To draw awareness to the fact that 1 in 54 children in the United States has autism, Autism Speaks invites people throughout the nation to take 5,400 steps. The event goes live at 1 pm and anyone who cares about a kinder world can RSVP to the Facebook Live event.
4. Autism Speaks has also announced that 2020 is the “Year of Kindness” for people with autism. It is their goal to achieve one million acts of kindness, big and small. Autism Speaks’ “Kindness Quest” began this April, but will continue on throughout the year. They invite everyone to share ways in which they make the world kinder and more inclusive, while increasing acceptance of people with autism and their families. Learn more on how you can participate in the quest.
5. There is a wealth of online resources for students who are now at home learning. What is less prevalent are online learning opportunities and general guidance specifically designed for children with autism. In comes Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children. This is a nationwide initiative aimed at communities with children ages 2 to 5. It offers families ways to manage common challenges, to simplify everyday activities, and to grow connections and support from family, friends, and community. There videos for children and parents, interactives for children, storybooks, and parents can sign up to receive a newsletter. Although this initiative is not new, it is important to draw attention to it while families navigate normal every day challenges of caring for a child with autism while also experiencing the difficulties brought about by COVID-19.
Show us how you’re celebrating at home and tag AIM Services, Inc. on Facebook!