Who World Autism Awareness Day Is Really For

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

It’s been almost five years since my son, Norrin, was diagnosed with autism. Before the diagnosis, I had no idea what autism was. What it really was. Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who had autism. And out of all my friends, I was the only one whose child had any kind of disability. I was scared and alone and no one could answer my questions. There was no one to offer any words of hope.

When Norrin was diagnosed in 2008, every 1 in 110 children had autism, a recent survey reveals that 1 in 50 school-age children have autism. In the last five years I’ve guided friends through the steps of having their children evaluated and diagnosed – giving them the insight I wish I had when we were going through the process.

I’ve learned that Autism Awareness goes beyond parents raising kids with autism. With autism becoming so prevalent – I don’t think anyone can afford to not be aware. This month is for you.

We live in a need to know society. I needed to know what autism was months before Norrin’s first evaluation.

If you’re the parent of a typical kid. You need to know what autism is because it can prevent bullying. Jill of Yeah. Good Times explains why in her recent post Everybody thinks it won’t be their kid.

Tell your kid that my kid likes to flap his hands, run back and forth, and talk to himself. Tell your kid that they might see this happening and feel uncomfortable because they don’t know what’s going on, and tell them that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable, and they can ask questions, but it’s not okay to make fun of him. It’s not okay to call him names, or point and laugh, even if their friends are doing it. Tell your kid that my kid does these things because it makes him feel good, and while that might seem weird, it’s totally okay.

If you’re in customer service, you need to know that some individuals need a little more understanding, patience and compassion – especially when they are on school outing. Because as Sunday of Adventures in Extreme Parenthood writes it is “during these instructional trips [that] our children are making strides to claim their rightful place among society.”

If you work in education – teachers, principals, psychologists or social workers, you especially need to understand autism because so many school-age children are undiagnosed and in general education classes. You need to know the signs so that you can help that child get the help he/she needs to be successful in the classroom.

If you’re in law enforcement, you need to know how individuals with autism communicate, you need to be able to read their body language.

Even if you’re not a parent of a typical kid, in customer service or law enforcement – you still need to know about autism. Leigh of Flappiness Is wants shoppers to stop staring at her son a because  ”every autistic child who has it, is different from the next.  Yet they do often share some similar traits – sensory overload and meltdowns are one of them.”

And if you’re a new parent – you especially need to know about autism. Because if you know the signs and have a concern. You can have your concerns addressed by a professional as soon you suspect your child has a delay.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and April is Autism Awareness Month. Whoever you are, whatever you do – you need to know about autism. This is the day, the month to learn. And you can start by asking questions.

Join me – along with developmental-behavioral pediatrician Georgina Peacock, M.D., MPH, and board certified behavior analyst Patricia Wright, Ph.D., MPH - tomorrow for a Parents Magazine’s Facebook chatWe’ll talk about the early signs of autism, treatment options and services, and I’ll share my own personal experiences parenting an autistic child. Readers can participate in the chat by asking questions.

When: Wednesday, April 3

Time: 1 pm est

Where: Parents Facebook page

For more information please click HERE.

Check some of my other posts to raise Autism Awareness:

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  1. by Chari @ChariT's Inspirational Creations

    On April 2, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Wow, what a great article! As a ‘new’ parent this is great information to consider and I will be passing it on!

    Many blessings!

  2. by andrea frazer

    On April 2, 2013 at 11:55 am

    It’s true – autism comes in so many forms. As I always say, education is the best way to advocate for your kid. And to laugh. Autistic kids are SMART and it’s so important to focus on their gifts, not just their issues.

  3. by Shell

    On April 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Lisa, this is so perfectly stated. I flounder a bit during Autism Awareness month- but this is so perfect.

  4. by jillsmo

    On April 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you!! :)

  5. by Kimberly Scanlon

    On April 4, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    I think we, as a society, get so caught up in defining autism, identifying symptoms, we forget that everything you mentioned is WHY autism awareness is so important. Your calls to action and your directedness is EXACTLY what we need to take action and to help others really sympathize and understand. Thank you!

  6. by Jacob Alexander

    On April 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Great Article! I have written a book about my son who is now 25 and actually experienced many of the potential problems that deal with your discussion.

    The author recently appeared on a National Radio Broadcast By Deeper Water Ministries-GROK RADIO
    Host Nick Peters Says: Great READ!!!

    Click on the Amazon.com link:

    http://www.amazon.com/IN-THE-BELLY-WHALE-ebook/dp/B009GB13A0/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1352321847&sr=1-1

    Title: In The Belly Of The Whale
    Author: Jacob Alexander