Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month!

According to National Autism Association, autism is a spectrum disorder that usually appears before the age of three and it typically affects the development of the brain in the areas of social interactions, communications, and cognitive functions. Currently there is no cure for autism but with early intervention and treatment, the symptoms related to autism can be improved and in some cases completely overcome. Unfortunately, autism can affect anyone no matter their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group. We’ve come a long way in better understanding and treating autism; year by year more research and treatment options are emerging for children and adults with autism.

There are three different levels of Autism. Level one is the mildest or the high functioning form of autism; level one has a hard time communicating with others and reading body language. Level two has more obvious problems with verbal and social communications and it makes it difficult for them to focus or move from one activity to another. Level three is the most severe form of autism, this category contains behaviors from levels one and two. Individuals with level three autism have problems both verbally and non-verbally and it makes it hard for them to function, interact socially, and deal with a change in focus. Level three also contains limited ability to speak clearly, they will also respond to very direct social approaches from other people.

Facts and Statistics:

  • 1 in 44 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder
  • Autism is more commonly found among boys
  • It is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the US
  • Females with autism spectrum disorder remain an understudied group in research

Characteristics and Early Signs:

  • Restricted and repetitive behavior, patterns, activities and interests
  • Persistent differences in communication, interpersonal relationships, and social interaction across different environments
  • Strong, persistent interest on specific topic, part of a toy, or item
  • Speaks later than typical or not at all (nonverbal)
  • Extremely distressed by changes, including new foods or changes in schedule
  • Prefers solitary or parallel play rather than engaging in associative or cooperative play with other children

We’ve asked Lindsey Contreras a couple of questions about her brother, Mateo Contreras, and how it feels to be living with someone who has a case of autism and her response was, “Yes, it is very difficult to live with someone who has Autism because it is hard to understand what they need or what they want.”

What do you do when your brother has a tantrum?

“Whenever he has a tantrum I just let him release his emotions and afterwards comfort him by giving him food or a toy.”

Does he have any accommodations?

“He has a speech therapist and he has improved a lot. He is now able to recognize his name and communicate with sign language.”

How is your relationship with your brother?

“He has a very close relationship with with me and our mom because we have our ways of understanding him in his language.”

Does he interact well with others?

“He has a difficult time interacting with other kids, so staying with himself is the only way he can play.”

According to Lindsey, despite her brother’s condition, he is a very loving and caring kid and they do their best to not put attention to his disability and to treat him like any other normal kid.

There are many ways that you can celebrate Autism Awareness Month! For example, you can read books about autism, wear a shirt representing an autism organization to raise awareness, and support autism-friendly businesses and employers. This month is meant to show extra love and care to these individuals suffering from this disorder that may get treated differently because of a condition they cannot control.

If you or anyone you know have any questions about Autism Spectrum Disorder you may visit the resources listed below:

More about autism:

Additional help:

AJC – Autism Resources

Autism Parenting Magazine – What is ABA Therapy?

Georgia Autism Initiative