Autism Awareness Month is almost over, but that doesn’t mean its impact or importance is. More people know about autism now, and more scientists have studied it in depth, than ever before. But there’s still a lot for the average person to keep in mind about autism today. So here are seven things to remember in honor of Autism Awareness Month.
Huge Development in Autism Products
There are way more tools to help people with autism in everyday life than there ever have been before. If there’s something “normal” that a person with autism struggles to do, there are probably autism products available to help them with it.
From health products like toothbrushes to sensory toys for children to be safely stimulated without getting overwhelmed, it’s possible to find just about anything to make life easier. Just like neurotypical people might prefer to sleep under a weighted blanket or use a fidget toy to concentrate at work, you can find similar things for anyone in the autistic community.
Specialized Autism Care
There is a whole world of care out there specifically for people with autism. This comes from neuropsychologists who focus on diagnosing autism and behavioral therapists, among others. But it also comes from general practitioners, dentists, and doctors in any other specialty who know how to treat people with autism.
Especially when you have a child with autism, having a dentist who knows how to handle these cases, or a general practitioner who knows what problem areas to look for, can be life-changing. And with the growing number of children diagnosed with autism, doctors who know how to work with it are increasingly common as well.
Diagnosis Is More Accurate Than Ever
Autism diagnoses are increasing. Scientists attribute it to two factors: one is that people are more aware of it, the other is that the criteria for diagnosis have widened. Together, they have made a huge difference in public perception of autism, and in the lives of people with autism.
Parents know what to look for in their children at home, and then take them to doctors who know about more elements of the autism spectrum. You can get an accurate diagnosis of what’s going on and what to do about it. It’s not “something in the water” that’s changed — it’s our understanding.
A Comfortable Environment Is Vital
Because we know so much more about autism, the different areas of the autism spectrum, and how people with autism feel, we know how to create a healthy environment at home when someone you love has it.
Keeping things comfortable and having a set routine are both important. Give people with autism ways to safely explore while still having a space to return to if needed. Any area where you can add gentle sensory stimulation like lights or toys is a good thing. All of these will help keep them confident and curious.
Handling Change Takes Special Care
People with autism rely on having a set routine. But every so often, life requires change. Whether it’s a new item in the home or the day’s schedule has to be altered, things come up occasionally that are unavoidable, but can still make people with autism anxious and uncomfortable.
But now, we know how to handle change in a healthy way for people who have autism. With proper preparation for what will be different, creating a new routine for it, and following through on the changes as laid out, you can make them as comfortable as possible in a stressful situation.
Autism Is Different In Everyone
For all these things to keep in mind about people with autism for Autism Awareness Month, one of the biggest caveats is that autism is different in everyone. Its full name is autism spectrum disorder for a reason – there’s a huge range of autism symptoms. As Dr. Stephen Shore famously said, “if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
While there are a number of commonalities among most people with autism, remember that everyone is unique. Just like anybody else, it’s much more helpful to get to know the person than the disorder!
Tons Of Resources
It can feel isolating when you or someone you love has problems with communication that often come with having autism. But there’s actually a huge, vibrant community of people who are on the spectrum and people who love them out there. And that community is filled with tons of resources.
From grant money for therapy and equipment, to lists of doctors who can help, to just having a group of people who understand where you’re coming from, you can always find something to help when you know where to look.
Autism Awareness Month may only last throughout April, but being aware of what’s important for people with autism lasts all year. By just keeping a few simple things in mind, though, you can be there for anyone you love with autism in exactly the ways that they need it.