April is National Autism Awareness month. But, everyday is another waiting period of Hope for a family or caretaker of a child with autism.
Every minute an evidence-based empirical research is completed… Hope Floats!
Every second the perfect coping strategy or the best sensory stimulated system is discovered…Faith Abounds!
Despite the fact that we think we are all AWARE and CONSIOUS of the term AUTISM, research shows that majority of us still struggle to ACCEPT and EMBRACE the concepts of autism… majority of us still struggle with how/what/ to do when approached…either at church…workplace…community….schools or even within family members! We are still tied down to cultural and religious biases that hinder our opportunity to do more for that voiceless child!
So, I am campaigning by raising a platform of Acceptance + Awareness + Embracement = Commitment to find a cure and heighten our knowledge, alertness, mindfulness, recognition and sensibility on the most avoided topic within us – Our perception on Autism.
What is Autism?
It is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.
There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.
In March 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 88 births in the United States and almost 1 in 54 boys. The spotlight shown on autism as a result of the prevalence increase opens opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve these families facing a lifetime of support for their children.
So, you noticed a child has Lack of or delay in spoken language, Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects), Little or no eye contact, Lack of interest in peer relationships, Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play or Persistent fixation on parts of objects..
Chances are you know a child with autism or have encountered one somewhere. It’s not easy knowing what to do or how to respond to the quirks (or outbursts) of an autistic child. Public tantrums are par for the course with children. How many of us have seen a kid have an outburst while their embarrassed parents try to get control?
Well, ratchet that up a couple of notches… Their tantrums can get rough. Don’t gape and stare at the child and parent, saying “Can you believe that kid?”. And especially don’t make comments or tell the parent, “Can’t you control your kid?” Just go about your business. Or if you catch the eye of the child’s caregiver, just flash a smile. It can work wonders.
You haven’t met anyone so unique and exceptional until you encounter a special need child. Their love is pure, genuine and transparent. You see through their little eyes rays of hope and unquestionable bewilderment.
So, instead of staring at the “un-believable sight or scene” why not give emotional support. Be that imaginary horse to be ridden on or be their knight in shinning armor who sings of their praises, it helps build their confidence. Reach out this month – to a special need child.
(Dedicated to all my special needs children and their families – well, “my caseload children” from over 15 years! – ‘Lighting it BLUE for you this month and always!)
Yinka Gansallo-Lawrence, Founder & CEO – Developmental Care Network & Autism Care Network. Michigan.