April is Autism Awareness Month!


Graphic by Amy Yu / The Aggie

This month was dedicated, in 1970, for the purpose of spreading awareness and to educate the public about autism. 

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental condition that affects a person’s success in social skills and communication. ASD is often diagnosed in childhood. Being diagnosed in childhood can be more beneficial to the child, allowing the family to acquire resources to help the child to live a full adult life. “Children who receive an Autism diagnosis by age 4 are fifty times more likely to receive services.”

According to the Autism Society, the diagnosis rate for autism is increasing 10-17% a year and as of recent data, 1 in 36 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Often society doesn’t realize other disorders are considered autism spectrum disorders. Asperger’s syndrome is a part of ASD. Asperger syndrome falls on the more mild side of the autism spectrum. Childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder are both also on the autism spectrum.

“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

— Dr. Stephen Shore

Common misconceptions of people with autism:

  • Each person with autism is the same.
  • People with autism are unable to get jobs.
  • Everyone with autism has a “savant skill”, like a photographic memory or being very advanced at math(can occur but not necessarily connected in a direct way).
  • People with autism are emotionless.
  • Children with autism are aggressive.
  • Autism is a disease that needs to or can be cured.

There are countless ways that anyone could get involved in making individuals with autism more widely accepted and understood. One great resource is the Autism Society of Central Virginia. They have worked for over 40 years to provide “sources of education, advocacy, services and support for individuals with autism, their families and friends, and professionals.” 

If you are a Powhatan High School student, there are even more local opportunities that you can be involved in. From Adaptive Art and PE classes, the Best Buddies Club, or even just stopping by Mrs. Meade’s classroom and having a conversation with a student, you can be a part of making people/students with autism feel more connected to a world that has previously been hesitant to accept or desire to understand them.

While April is Autism Awareness month, that does not mean that it is the only time people should get involved or support those with autism. Get involved today and make an impact in someone’s life!