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April is Autism Awareness Month

Helping people with autism find their voice
Photo Courtesy of Connect the Dots Pediatric Therapy

Bernard Rimland had a son born in 1956 who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. With the little information about autism available, Rimland decided to do his own research on the topic. Through his years, he published Infantile Autism: The Syndrome and Its Implications for a Neural Theory of Behavior (along with other books), founded the Autism Society of America, established the Autism Research Institute, was the advisor for autism in the movie Rain Man, and more. In 1970, he established Autism Awareness Month in April to accompany his son’s birthday. In April of 1988, Ronald Reagan issued the first presidential proclamation declaring April as Autism Awareness Month. (  

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder, is a type of developmental disease and neurodivergence. People diagnosed with autism may have noticeable differences in communication, learning, and interactions with others. There are some telling signs that allow children, adolescents, and even adults to receive a diagnosis of autism. Aversion of eye contact, restricted or repetitive behaviors, delayed language and movement skills, hyperactivity, unusual mood, and more are some of the symptoms people may experience. ( Although it is sometimes diagnosed at early ages like Rimland’s son, other diagnoses take longer. This can lead to a phenomena called masking, where autistic people change the way they act to blend in with non-autistic people. This can make diagnosing autism later in life much more difficult. ( People who are diagnosed later in life have higher rates of mental health struggles, as autistic people oftentimes experience anxiety and depression, and it can be inflated with the delayed diagnosis (  

There are many reasons why World Autism Month is celebrated, and it holds a great importance in understanding autism worldwide. It allows misconceptions to be broken down and for autistic people to achieve their goals and opportunities. There are many ways you can help be a part of the change, such as taking a pledge, donating, fundraising or advocating. Overall, World Autism Month is rich in meaning and history, helping people with autism find their voice within the community.

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