April signifies many things, the introduction into spring, an authorized hiatus from the monotony of college life, but most importantly, this month signifies autism awareness. Any time of year is as good as this month to devote specialized attention to this group of people. But this time is explicitly a period we use to bring eyes to this matter in a digestible way for those who may be ignorant of the struggles people with autism may face. As stated by Discovery Therapy, according to the CDC, as of 2022, 1 in 44 children have been clinically recognized as having autism spectrum disorder.
So it’s’ important for people to be aware of what having autism entails. Holding affairs and programs dedicated to making people aware of life through the autistic lens may inspire people to get more involved. It can help extend their bandwidth to this community beyond the campus grounds. It will also create a more inclusive and comfortable space for those students who may be on the spectrum or feel as though they may have the disorder and have yet to be diagnosed.
Many students may also reap the benefit of gaining an understanding of how they may be able to accommodate or offer necessary assistance to someone with autism that may be having a hard time due to experiencing auditory distress or sensory overload. Another statistic provided by Discovery Therapy shows that about 40% of all children on the autistic spectrum are non-verbal.
Information provided by Autism Speaks shows that everyday habits displayed by people on the spectrum of all ages can include social communication challenges such as abnormal gestures, lack of eye contact, exaggerated facial expressions, and heightened tone of voice. Other conduct may consist of repetitive body movements, repetitive motions with objects, and ritualistic behaviors like lining up things and repeatedly touching things in a set order. The development of these programs could also aid in students being able to better identify someone with autism based on several different behaviors, so they’ll be equipped with the knowledge to respond appropriately.
In the US, of the youth diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, The National Library of Medicine shows that about 34.7% of the overall figure of people living with the condition attend college. Though that percentage may seem to pale compared to the number of people that go to college in North America every year, It’s’ still enough to consider the next time you meet someone new while on campus.
With autism manifesting differently in every person with the disorder and the number of cases climbing yearly, they may be on the spectrum. Discovery Therapy provides statistics supporting that the ubiquity of autism has increased by 178% since 2000. In the US, 1 in every 150 people had autism in 2000; as of 2022, 1 in every 100 are diagnosed with the disorder.
Autism awareness shouldn’t be limited to just one month, but this April and the April to come could be used to kick start broadening college students’ horizons regarding their knowledge on the subject matter. This could be achieved by introducing various programs and events to the campus to raise awareness for those with autism. The positive consequences of holding such events on campus grounds are endless.
From informing students on the expected behaviors, someone may display if they have autistic spectrum disorder so that they may be aware and able to assist, if necessary, to create a more inclusive, safe space for those with autism. The bottom line is this should be a part of every campus experience. Does your school hold any functions in honor of autism awareness month? If so, how?
Zada Luby is a first-year student at Gwinnett Technical College; she’s a nursing major who loves art, nature and helping her community grow. Follow her interests and more here.