The ‘Puzzle Ribbon’ is the symbol for Autism Awareness and is promoted by the Autism Society as a means of supporting awareness for autism. National Autism Awareness Month aims to make the public more aware about this widespread disability and the issues which arise in the autism community. The first National Autism Awareness Month was declared by the Autism Society in April 1970.
The aim of this month is educating the public about autism. In the United States, autism affects 1 in every 150 people, the chances are that you know someone with this disability, and a better-informed public will be more empathetic and supportive towards people with autism.
This month is backed by the Autism Society of America which undertakes several activities to raise awareness about autism. The Autism Society has local chapters throughout the United States which hold special events throughout April.
- Autism is a complex mental condition and developmental disability, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with other people.
- Autism can be present from birth or form during early childhood (typically within the first three years). Autism is a lifelong developmental disability with no single known cause.
- People with autism are classed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the terms autism and ASD are often used interchangeably. A wide spectrum disorder, people with autism have a set of symptoms unique to themselves; no two people are the same.
Common Characteristics of Autism found in those with this complex disability
- Social Skills- problems interacting with others; do not have adequate playing and talking skills (mildly) displayed through clumsy behavior, and the other end of the spectrum may not be interested in others.
- Empathy– find it harder to show empathy to others although they can be taught to acknowledge the others feelings.
- Physical Contact- in some cases, autistic people do not like physical contact such as hugs, tickling or physical play with others.
- Sudden Changes to Their Environment- a sudden change in the surrounding environment may affect a person with autism. The could be a loud noise, a change in intensity of lighting or even a change in smell.
- Speech- speech can be affected in people with autism. ‘Echolalia’ is a typical speech symptom in which the person repeats words and phrases that they hear. The speech tone of an autistic person may be monotonous.
- Changes to Behavior and Routine- often display repetitive behavior in which they repeat the same action many times over. Any change to their behavior or routine can be unsettling for them.
Other characteristics of autism include an unpredictable learning rate, obsessions and physical tics.
For more information on National Autism Awareness Month visit the Autism Society’s Awareness Page.
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