Light It Up Blue In April For Autism Awareness Month

I'll Always Light It Up Blue In April

April is World Autism Month, and we should all be lighting it up blue to raise awareness.

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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!

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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10 Everyday Thoughts From My Autistic Brain

If you're looking for your run of the mill inspirational article, turn back while you can.

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Yes, I'm Autistic. I guess if you're a regular reader of mine, or else someone in my life who's incredibly observant, wow, big shocker, isn't it? I figured since it's April, I may as well write something relating to my eccentric little mind. If you're looking for something incredibly sappy, saying I'm someone else's "world" or "little angel", or something where I finally display a sense of activism, I suggest you click out of this immediately. That's not me. Nothing's changed, I'm still going to be my usual sardonic self here. Still, I'll make a disclaimer: This is my own experience, we autistics are incredibly varied people, so I can't speak for every single one.

1. Everyone else likes this thing I don't? Everyone else is going out to do that thing that bores me to death? Let me have my peer pressure reflex kick in...

Gfycat

Yeah, it can vary among individuals, but since I lack the innate ability to simply "get" socialization, peer pressure for the most part doesn't really affect me.

2. This song is good... must... stim...

Gfycat

Emotions and enjoyment are weird things, not something that can really be described... So wouldn't it only be logical to show it in a way that seems weird to normal people with the explanation that it feels good? This is why it can also happen in distress.

3. So... We have to go do a thing in five minutes? And you're only telling me this now? Just... Why?

Tenor

The world is a very scary and unpredictable place. Routine gives me a sense of serenity in a said unstable world, and when people make mandatory last minute changes, then we'll have a ball of both anxiety and rage. It's so easy to just announce a change in advance, why not just do it?

4. Anti Vaxxers are the scum of the Earth, I swear...

Giphy

If it's not enough they don't believe in science, it's just insulting either way. So you'd rather spread measles and polio than have a kid with a brain that works differently than yours? Um... How about no?

5. I wish people would stop complaining about social media, it's a godsend for someone like me.

Giphy

It's not that I can't talk to people, it's that I don't like it most of the time... Mainly because I'm not that verbally articulate, especially when describing stuff. With social media, I can communicate with people without having to actually talk to them, plus I can post pictures instead of trying to describe the thing. So, maybe next time someone's on their phone, instead of complaining about it, consider whether or not that person sucks at normal communication instead of pushing them into your "tech-free" la la land and have them not communicate at all?

6. Why are people complaining about the whole "what's your superpower" thing? To be honest, it's not completely wrong.

Giphy

Think about it. Not every autistic is a savant, but they do exist. The higher curiosity drive when it comes to special interests. Attention to detail. Strong hearing. Strong taste buds. Ability to spend more time alone without going crazy. Herd immunity (see number 1). Okay, maybe not all of these seem that super, but trust me, not just anyone has most of these at once... And if I had the time and space to list more... And more.

7. Why are you hugging me? I didn't say you can hug me.

Giphy

Dude. Seriously. I don't hate hugs. I just don't like that being touchy-feely is a social norm. If you hug me too early or when I simply don't want to be hugged, then I'm going to be uncomfortable regardless of whether I like you or not. And suddenly I'm the rude one? You can hug me when I decide you can hug me.

8. Sure, I'll eat raw fruit... Once my body stops thinking it's poison.

Tenor

Sometimes the heightened senses can be a curse as well as a superpower. Like, for instance, I can't ingest most fruits simply because of the texture. It doesn't matter whether it tastes good or not, if I try, my body's all like "abort, abort, must get rid of food." I know it's better to just eat the fruit, I know, I've heard all the lectures in real life and on the internet, but it's not really possible when the only way I can consume it is through juice... And not the pulpy kind. I can tell it's there!

9. Why is small talk a thing?

Giphy

How am I? Meh, whatever? How are you? Honestly, I don't care that much. I don't think you really care either. I think I've expressed MANY TIMES how much I hate being asked how school's going. Honestly, why do we ask about things nobody really cares about? Let's not talk about how lovely the weather is, let's talk what happened on Supernatural, or rank the London Underground lines from magical train to heaven to commuter hell, or better yet the meaning of life. There are millions of more interesting things to talk about!

10. I'm still the same person!

Gifer

I usually keep the autism thing under wraps unless it becomes relevant (like now, in doing this April article) or someone figures it out on their own. Believe me, I'm not ashamed, but people don't seem to get it. I'm not a different person just because you know I'm autistic now, there's no need to be overly cautious or feel overly sorry for me. I'm a human being like you, my brain just doesn't work the same as yours, but believe me, it works. I haven't changed.

If you've made it this far, thank you for reading me dumping out the contents of my brain. Although really, isn't just what I do for Odyssey bi-weekly anyway? If you need to find a heartwarming article after this, I feel you, I won't personally be offended. But hey, I like the idea of writing honestly about myself than someone else writing about how "angelic" I am. I mean, it's perfectly okay, but I'm more into honesty. Oh, look at that... Another trait of "eccentricity, hehe!

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