April is Autism Awareness Month – get involved!

Autism Awareness Month is recognized each April to highlight the growing need for awareness and understanding about Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects the ability to communicate and interact with others to different and varying degrees. The autism spectrum includes Asperger’s syndrome.

Autism prevalence is now one in every 88 children, but some studies suggest the number may be even higher. Whatever the exact statistic, the fact is that autism diagnoses are on the rise. In fact, autism is more common than childhood cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness can help individuals and their families today.

Here are a few suggestions about ways you might help raise awareness about autism during April – and throughout the year:

Put on the Puzzle! The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Show your support for individuals with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon – as a pin on your shirt, a magnet on your car, or even your Facebook profile picture – and educate folks on the potential of people with autism!

Make a difference. Politics is a 24/7 game, and it’s important to make your voice heard when it counts. Keep up to speed on the latest legislation that affects people with autism through the Autism Society’s “Vote 4 Autism” advocacy campaign – and reach out to your representatives on the state and federal levels to ask them to vote on legislation you consider vital.

Connect with your neighborhood. Many Autism Society local affiliates hold special events throughout the year to increase awareness in their communities. 1Power4Autism, a grassroots event program for the Autism Society, aims to increase awareness, raise funds, and expand volunteers for autism support programs. You can start your own event, such as walking, running, racing, golfing, cycling, jumping, rowing, or other organized activity for autism. Or you can join with others to volunteer or support autism through participating in events being held in your area.

Walk for Autism! Walk Now for Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest grassroots autism walk program, is Autism Speaks’ signature fundraising and awareness event that takes place in communities across the U.S. and Canada. It’s not too late to get involved or to start planning for next year! Powered by volunteers and families with loved ones on the autism spectrum – and local businesses and companies that employ those on the spectrum – this successful grassroots fundraising effort not only generates vital funds for autism research but also raises awareness about the increasing prevalence of autism and the need for increased research funding to combat this complex disorder.

For more ideas or information – or to make a donation to support autism research – contact your local Autism Society or Autism Speaks affiliate.

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