(Updated March 2012)
When I was earning my teaching credential six years ago, I was struck by how unprepared schools were to handle students with special needs. A classmate of mine began teaching middle school science, and in her first year she had three students diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (an autism disorder). There was no help for her to teach, create or modify lesson plans based on the individual learning needs of those in her class.
My neighbor, Shona, also has a two-year-old son who has been diagnosed, and through conversations with her, I’ve found myself more aware of autism. I’m now asking questions about what it means to have an autistic child and talking about how we support autistic children, their families, and educators in the United States.
According to this story in CBS News, I’m not the only one. Greater awareness and broader definitions of autism have resulted in 1 in every 110 children—and 1 in 70 boys—being diagnosed. Even with increased awareness, it appears that teachers and families alike aren’t quite sure how to adapt and do what’s best for an autistic child on a day-to-day basis. I’ve learned a lot from Shona about autism, and discovered that better understanding it starts with education and resources.
A few valuable resources
Autism Speaks is a great organization that helps parents and teachers recognize signs of autism. The website explains different treatments for autism, provides a place for parents to give and receive support, and offers ways to learn more about the special gift their child has. Their approach focuses on the positive benefits of autism and how to embrace it.
On April 2, buildings all over the world are participating in Autism Speaks “Light It Up Blue” campaign to kick off Autism Awareness Month. Celebrating World Autism Awareness Day on that Monday is helping shine a light on autism as a growing global health concern.
Autism Inspiration helps parents and educators to better understand different learning styles for children with autism. The charity provides tools and activities for both the classroom and in the home. My neighbor Shona said it helped her to understand what’s happening on the more difficult days, and to know how to get through them.
- The Autism Society of America provides the latest information in research and advocacy.
- The Environmental Health Initiative shows how environmental toxins are contributing to the rise in autism.
- The Treatment Guided Research Initiative to looks at how people respond to different treatments–from changes in diet, medical treatments, educational, as well as behavioral and therapeutic interventions.
- Biomedical intervention is one of the treatment methods proven to work for children with autism.
- And Generation Rescue, founded by Jenny McCarthy, is an international movement researching the causes and treatments for autism and connecting thousands of families in recovering their children.
This short video “Autism Yesterday” Autism is Reversible, from JB Handley features families speaking about this method and how it has helped their autistic children.
Want to make a difference? In honor of this month of awareness, make a donation today to an Autism Research or Resource organization.
Have you been touched by autism? Share your story with us on Facebook.
Julia Hughes, Marketing Assistant