April is Autism Awareness Month and in particular, April 2nd has been designated by the United Nations as “World Autism Awareness Day”, one of only four official health-specific UN Days. Nearly a quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.
Autism Awareness: www.autismawarenessonline.com
This is an online resource to help you find out more about autism and direct you to the appropriate resource. The site has something for parents, family members, educators or anyone who is interested in finding out more about autism.
Autism Society: www.autism-society.org
“The Nation’s leading grassroots autism organization. We work to increase public awareness about the day-to-day issues about people across the spectrum, advocate for appropriate services for individuals of every age, and provide the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy.”
Autism Speaks: www.autismspeaks.org
Excellent resource for understanding more about autism and helping you location local resources as well as different ways of getting involved: finding a walk, attending an event, supporting Autism Speaks corporate partners or being an advocate in your state.
National Autism Resources: www.nationalautismresources.com
This is an online store for educational toys, flashcards, therapy equipment and sensory products for autism and special needs kids and adults. Includes sensory & OT products, calming products, focus tools for schools, chewy tubes, social skills curriculum and games, education toys and handwriting and fine motors tools.
Autism Housing Network: www.autismhousingnetwork.org
A platform for sharing great housing options and resources for autistic adults and others with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Sweetwater Spectrum: www.sweetwaterspectrum.org/our-model/#replicating-our-model
The supported living model of Sweetwater Spectrum is based on co-housing, and offers choice to its residents with individual, customized and flexible programs, supporting life skills training, continuing education, gardening, art/music, exercise and healthy lifestyles. The need for this new model is substantial as Sweetwater Spectrum regularly responds to inquiries about our approach from all over the world.
Becoming Independent: www.becomingindependent.org
College To Career (Santa Rosa Junior College): www.drd.santarosa.edu/c2c
Giant Steps Equestrian Center: www.giantstepsriding.org
Matrix (Parent Network and Resource Center): www.matrixparents.org
No Barriers: www.nobarriers.info
North Bay Autism Resources: www.northbayautism.com
North Bay Regional Center: www.nbrc.net
PACE (Pacific Autism Center for Education): www.pacificautism.org
Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE): www.scoe.org
Special Olympics: www.sonc.org
Sweetwater Spectrum: www.sweetwaterspectrum.org/our-model
Ways YOU can show your support during April and beyond:
Wear Blue on Autism Awareness Day. Within the month of April, there is a designated Autism Awareness Day, when Autism Speaks celebrates the beginning of its yearly campaign, Light It Up Blue. Many landmarks, buildings, homes and even people around the country “light up blue” to support people with autism. On April 2 this year, wear your favorite blue shirt to help raise awareness for this important day. Posting on social media with the hashtag #LIUB (and #autismawarenessmonth) is a great way to show your support!
Participate in a walk. There are hundreds of Autism walks around the country throughout the year. If you can participate in one during the month of April, great! If not, walking any time during the year for registered events is a great way to spread support and awareness.
Spend time with someone with autism. The best way to begin to understand autism is to interact with someone who is affected by it. Giving someone you know with autism support and consideration is a great way to celebrate the month and spread awareness and advocacy.
Be an advocate. Talk to your local school board. Write a letter or go to a meeting. Show your support for inclusion and for autism spectrum disorders in your local schools.
No matter whether you choose to raise awareness and show your support through social media, donations, events or advocacy, the important thing is that the support is there. Although Autism Awareness Month is a great time to show this, the disorder does not only exist during April, so it’s essential to advocate for children, and adults, with autism year-round.
(Source: Huffington Post)