April is Autism Awareness Month!

Braylin, Staff

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April is Autism Awareness Month, but I deal with autism everyday!  The CDC defines autism as a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.  Here are a few facts I would like you to know about autism: 

First, autism is a spectrum disorder, this means that there can be various levels of function. The level of function that I reference means that an individual with Autism can be low functioning to high functioning.  Low functioning meaning that individual requires twenty-four-hour care; high functioning means that a person could create Nintendo’s Pokemon like Satoshi Tajiri, or be the CEO of Apple like the late Steve Jobs.  

The next thing I would like you to know is that an individual with Autism has no physical markers. That means that you can’t tell from looking at someone that they have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. They look just like you and me but are different on the inside in terms of communication and social activity.  

Another thing an individual with Autism really struggles with is sensory issues. That means that all five senses are usually hyperactive, and it effects each individual differently, whether it’s sights, sounds, touches, and the difficulty expressing that hyper-sensitivity due to a lack of communication skills; this hyper-sensitivity sometimes causes either meltdowns or outbursts, because that is the way that individual is expressing that over stimulation.  

The last thing I would like you to know about are the struggles of being overwhelmed. When an autistic person does not know how to communicate properly, he/she resorts to having meltdowns and outbursts to get their emotions out. However, some autistic people resort to methods to calm down like squeezing a stress ball or asking to leave the classroom. 

I also want you to know what autism is NOT: Just because someone has the diagnosis of autism does not mean that they are shy and isolated. They want to make friends just like anyone else, want to participate in what they like, and want to have fun. 

 Different should not mean excluded. That is the meaning of awareness; please don’t leave out someone with a mental disorder and see what they have to offer to you. They may even change your like just like in the movie “Rain Man” between the autistic man Raymond and his brother Charlie. I would like to leave off with a quote that best describes autistic people: “A disability does not limit one’s knowledge.”