April is Autism Acceptance Month and we are encouraging the community to come together to #CelebrateDifferences, and promote awareness and inclusion of individuals with autism, or any disability!
**The Autism Society is leading the legislative effort for lawmakers to federally and globally designate April as Autism Acceptance Month, a shift from the commonly used phrase “Autism Awareness Month”.
Easterseals Colorado’s tagline is the essence of this movement – All Abilities. Limitless Possibilities. Leading the way to creating a Colorado where EVERYONE, regardless of age or ability, is 100% included and 100% empowered.
The shift in the use of terminology aims to foster ACCEPTANCE to spark change through improved support and opportunities in education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care and comprehensive long-term services. Acceptance comes with understanding, and while individuals living with autism and their families live this life every day, there is a need for factual education and awareness for the general public. Knowledge promotes acceptance because it allows people to understand how to be more inclusive, as well as build more supportive experiences.
People living with autism deserve to be celebrated for their differences, welcomed by their community, included in schools and employment, and given equal opportunities and access.
What is autism?
Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood, and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation. It is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects people differently and to varying degrees. While there is currently no known single cause of autism, early diagnosis helps a person receive the support and services that they need, which can lead to a quality life filled with opportunity.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) now includes several developmental disabilities that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, and Asperger syndrome. It can be difficult to diagnose ASD since there isn’t a medical test – a child’s behavior and development are looked at for doctors to make a diagnosis.
Did you know?
- Autism spectrum disorder is the fastest growing developmental disability. [CDC]
- 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder. [CDC]
- 1 in 54 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. [CDC]
*In comparison – In 2004, 1 in 125 children in the U.S. were diagnosed with autism.
- Autism spectrum disorder occurs among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. [CDC]
*However, there are disparities in diagnosis due to barriers including stigma and lack of access to health care.
- Autism spectrum disorder is more than 4 times more common among boys than among girls. [CDC]
*Recent research suggests girls may not show signs of autism in the same way as boys, and therefore, might go undiagnosed.
- Autism spectrum disorder begins before the age of 3 years and can last throughout a person’s lifetime, although symptoms may improve over time. [CDC]
- Some children show symptoms of autism spectrum disorder within the first 12 months of life, but others may not show symptoms until 24 months or later. [CDC]
- Updated criteria for diagnosing autism spectrum disorder include problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. [CDC]
*Important note: some people without ASD might show similar characteristics, but for people with ASD, these characteristics make life very challenging.
Autism Awareness Signs:
- Repetitive behaviors, movements, or phrases
- Lack of response to normal stimuli [i.e. his/her name, visual cues]
- Atypical verbal communication or non-speaking
- Difficulty understanding or expressing feelings
- Avoiding or not keeping eye contact
The CDC has a great “Learn the Signs. Act Early” campaign on their website to track your child’s development, from age 2 months to 5 years, and act early if you have a concern. This campaign helps show certain milestones your child should reach in how he or she plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves. They also offer a free Milestone Tracker app!
TACT (Teaching the Autism Community Trades)
While we have many programs for people living with disabilities, we are proud to have TACT as a part of the Easterseals Colorado Affiliate Network (ESCAN), a local nonprofit organization that encourages and empowers individuals ages 5-30 living with ASD through education and employment in the skilled trades industry. TACT was founded in 2016 by two parents seeking better options for their son, who was diagnosed with ASD in 2015. Recognizing that adults with ASD are one of the most unemployed populations in the country at 90% – and with significant access, experience, and knowledge of trades – the pair created TACT.