Autism Month: Raising Awareness

1 in 68 kids will be diagnosed with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because of this, April has been named Autism Awareness Month and the United Nations has recognized April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day.

Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization that sponsors research and outreach activities describes the month as one that “celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism.”

Throughout the month of April, autism is recognized through Congressional declarations and national events, activities, and opportunities for families affected by the disorder.

Sean Manning and his family are the perfect example. His sister, Talia, is ten years old and has been diagnosed with autism.

“The slightest things can set her off: the wrong fabric, the wrong light in the room, the wrong noise, someone interrupting her as she’s talking,” said Sean. “She has two variations of what she’ll do. She’ll either shut down or go ballistic.”

Autism spectrum disorders cause a multitude of social and communicative difficulties, such as repetitive behavior, mood swings, aggression, and anxiety.

“I won’t lie it’s been rough,” said Sean. “Like any child that has a disability, it’s stressful on the family in some way or another.”

Doctors cannot pinpoint an exact cause of autism, although it has been linked to genetic and environmental factors.

There is no cure for autism, but it is helpful to diagnose early on to start the appropriate treatment to ensure the development of compensatory skills.

“Just because her [Talia] brain is wired just a little bit differently doesn’t make her any less of the same person as you are,” said Sean.

Naming April Autism Awareness Month provides a time to bring focus to this issue. It gives folks a reason to do something a little extra in understanding exactly what autism is.

Not only that, it also helps those who are dealing with the disorder to feel less alone.

“The Autism is not who she is, it’s only a part of who she is,” said Sean.  

This month is about more than just stutters and tantrums. It’s about understanding the struggle, providing a helpful hand, and honoring those that deal with it every day.

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