April is Autism Awareness Month and it encourages people to wear the color blue to help raise support and educate about autism. People also wear the autism ribbon, which is covered in puzzle pieces to show how complex and diverse each case can be for everyone that is on the spectrum.
Every year in April, family members and friends of people with autism, join together in walks, awareness days and other events to support. There are even drives to collect things that families need. National monuments are lit up with the color blue to raise awareness for this disability. There are local autism groups that anyone who is impacted by the disability can join.
Autism is a complex mental condition and developmental disability. It is characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with other people. Signs of autism can be present at birth or form in the early childhood, typically within the first three years.
Janeen Herskovitz MA, is a therapist who specializes in people on the autism disorder spectrum and their families. She said autism can look different depending on how it affects a person.
“I want people to know that if a person with autism can’t communicate like a typical person, they still can understand and comprehend,” Janeen said. “Treat them like everyone else.”
Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder with no single known cause. Autism usually impacts social skills, empathy, physical contact, speech and ability to adjust to new situations.
People on the spectrum can range from high functioning to low functioning. The spectrum includes people who are diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Those impacted can also have different dietary restrictions and allergies.
Senior Dakota Webb works with autistic kids at the Rogers Academy. She plans on being a therapist to work with those impacted with autism and their families.
“They’re so fantastically smart and incredible in the works that they can do, whether that be social interaction goals being achieved or academic goals being achieved,” Webb said. “I would love to help every child I can with autism, but for now I will help those that are in reach.”
Outside of April, there are other events to get involved in along with organizations you can volunteer with to help people with autism. There are drives for families year round, fun runs and more for people to get involved in.
There is a Best Buddies chapter at Florida Southern in which students can help people with disabilities year round.