Autism Awareness: “Light It Up Blue” this April

autism awareness month, autism myths and factsIncreasing awareness can build understanding and acceptance

Do you know someone who is affected by autism? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Gaining a better understanding of autism can help all of us to accept and appreciate children, teens, and adults who have autism.

Autism Speaks is asking the country to “light it up blue” this month to symbolize awareness of autism. Individuals can wear blue or hang blue lights. Businesses and governments are being asked to cast blue lights on their buildings, monuments, bridges, and other structures on the evening of April 1 to usher in the awareness month.

Here are some myths and facts about autism that may help you to become more aware.

Myth: Autism has no cure and there’s nothing you can do about it.
It is correct that there is no cure for autism, but there are many interventional therapies that can have a great impact. Researchers have found that early intervention can help some children develop needed skills and behaviors at a more typical pace. This is why it’s so important for parents of young children to know the signs.

Myth: People with autism are anti-social and don’t want friends.
In many cases, people with autism may struggle with social skills that come naturally to typically developing people. But this does not mean they don’t want friends. With patience and understanding, people with autism can develop and want to develop friendships.

Myth: People with autism don’t feel emotions.
Most people with autism feel the same emotions as their typical peers. However, sometimes autism makes it hard for them to communicate these emotions in the same way as others do. Similarly, people with autism may not pick up on social cues to understand when someone else is feeling sad or down. But this doesn’t mean they don’t care or can’t express empathy. They just may need the emotions to be explained more directly.

Myth: People with autism are “savants” like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man.
This can be true but usually is false. Sometimes a person with autism may have exceptional abilities, but not necessarily. Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means there is a wide array of abilities that people on this spectrum may have or not have. It varies according to the individual.

Myth: It is better to “wait and see” if a child begins to develop typically before seeking a diagnostic assessment.
If you or your child’s pediatrician have any suspicion that the child may have autism, you should get an assessment. The earlier you get interventional therapies for your child—even as early as one year of age—the better their outcomes will be.

Myth: People with autism cannot have full and successful lives.
Many people with autism are living successful lives, working and contributing to their communities. This type of outcome is most likely if the person has had appropriate personalized interventional services from a young age.

The Harris School of Business is proud to provide this blog post as a way to help raise awareness of autism and increase our understanding of people with autism. To find out what else you can do to help raise awareness, visit the Autism Speaks website. You’ll find plenty of resources and opportunities to get involved! Remember, spreading awareness is a vital step toward helping people with disabilities find understanding and acceptance.