“Today is World Autism Awareness Day! The latest statistics from the CDC website show that as of December 2021, 1 in 44 people are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum disorder.
“In The Son-Rise Program® we don’t just believe in raising Autism Awareness, but we believe in the importance of taking actions to support the Autism community! We encourage everyone to practice Autism acceptance and to seek to understand the experience of those affected by Autism. With increasing cases each year, it makes sense for us to take supportive actions so that we can hold hands with those who have this unique way of taking in and processing the world. Instead of trying to get our children and adults on the Autism Spectrum to change and conform, we instead, can change ourselves, educate ourselves, practice understanding and acceptance so we can adapt to this new world, and support and include people who are Neuro-Diverse.
“Whether you are a parent, family member, sibling, teacher, friend, or even a stranger to someone who you suspect might be on the Autism Spectrum – here are some actions you can take to practice making a difference in the Autism community and therefore the world in general.
“For parents and caregivers: JOIN your child in their repetitious activities. If your child is lining up toys, get some of your toys, move across the room and line up your toys in the same way as they do. See this as an opportunity to relate to your child and enjoy their world, step into their shoes for a few minutes (or an hour) with an attitude of delight and sincerity.
“Doing this sends our children a message of love, acceptance, and inclusion. When we join our children’s worlds, we can demonstrate and practice understanding, compassion, and kindness. This opens up the doorway for our children to feel safe, respected, and valued as human beings.
“For family members, teachers, siblings: If a person on the Autism Spectrum asks you questions repetitiously, or talks enthusiastically about a certain topic with no room for you to reply or respond – listen with delight and compassion. Give them a few minutes of your time and attention because your welcoming presence matters.
“For neighbors and friends: Offer your help and support to a family that you might know who is affected by Autism. You can cook them some meals, mow their lawn, run some errands, or offer to babysit. You might not always see it, but their time is precious and their resources are limited, you can make an awesome impact in their lives by helping.
“For everyone: If you see a parent out in public and their child seems to be having a tantrum or a meltdown… don’t assume they are ‘acting out.’ They are doing the best they can and could be overwhelmed by an environment or situation, that is simply not catered to the individual on the Autism Spectrum. Show your warmth and caring by not judging that child or their parent. They may be struggling, so be kind, smile, make eye contact, you could even ask ‘how can I help?’
“Instead of asking our loved ones to change, we want to ask… how WE can change to make a difference in their world.”
Written by Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher