April is a very important month for my sorority and I, as our national philanthropy is Autism Speaks. As well as it is very important for many others worldwide. This month is World Autism Month. A month dedicated to raising awareness and understanding about those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as acceptance. There are more affected by this than you know. First, what is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a very broad range of conditions. Challenges with social skills, speech, repetitive behaviors, and nonverbal communication. Just in the United States, one in 59 children are affected. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls, with one in 37 boys being diagnosed. Compared to one in 154 girls being diagnosed. It can be influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Often times it is accompanied by some medical issues, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep or seizure disorders, and mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, and attention disorders. Since it is a spectrum disorder, there is a raise of ability and strengths between each individual affected.

Some can live independently. While others may face challenges. They may require little to a significant amount of support. Typically by age two to three is when indicators appear. It can be diagnosed as early as 18 months, however. Medical expenses for those affected by Autism Spectrum disorder is about 4.1 to 6.2 times greater than those not affected. On average, Autism Spectrum Disorder costs about $60,000 a year. Mothers typically tend to be the child who is affected advocate and case manager. They work on average 56 hours less a week than those with no medical limitations.

There are many events held throughout the year to fundraise, and raise awareness. One of Autisms Speaks biggest events is The Walk. Held throughout the year at different locations, it's easy to find one near you to get involved with. Autism Speaks holds many other events throughout the year, and it would be worth your time to check their site to see anything coming up to attend. They fund research about Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as services that provide educational and social programs and experiences. They also fund some to those affected by natural disasters or life events.

Alpha Xi Delta, a National Panhellenic Chapter, is partnered with Autism Speaks as well. And the chapters throughout the nation do different events throughout the academic year to raise money for Autism Speaks. You can see them, and the rest of the Autism Spectrum Disorder community raising awareness daily. Throughout April, keep your eyes open for different Light It Up Blue events in your community. Have your coworkers, or class, or even just your family wear blue. But don't limit yourself to this month, get involved throughout the year. For more information about Autism Spectrum Disorder, you can check out Autism Speaks website!