When the month of April comes to mind, many people think about the start of warm weather or spring break. However, many people don't know that April is also Autism Awareness month. It starts with April second as National Autism Awareness Day. This is a day dedicated to raising awareness and knowledge of autism. Across the nation on this day, you may have noticed famous landmarks lit up blue, but never knew why. The reason is to raise awareness of Autism spectrum disorder.
As defined by The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning."
One of the scariest things about this disorder is that it's one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the United States and now affects 1 in 68 children. Currently, there is no known cause of autism. Another important thing for everyone to know is that, recently, there have been discussions about referring to a person as "being autistic." It has been decided that, instead, you should refer to the person as someone who is affected by Autism spectrum disorder. This is important because having this disorder is only a part of the person affected by it, not their whole personal identity. So, to call someone "autistic" is to identify them purely based on this disorder. By referring to them as someone who is affected by Autism spectrum disorder instead, it recognizes that as being a part of them, but also makes it clear that they are their own person outside of this disorder.
Before joining my sorority, I knew little to nothing about Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, now I realize the importance of gaining the support of everyone. My sorority Alpha Xi Delta is official partners with Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and money to support those affected by autism. This is a disorder that affects many, so having the support of others is extremely important to those who are affected by this disorder. The first step in gaining widespread support is for people to be aware of the issue. That's why it is so important to do things like lighting it up blue so that we can gain awareness and, through that awareness, then try to gain support for those who are affected. I hope that next time you think about the month of April, that you also think about lighting it up blue with all of us to raise awareness for autism.