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The Hood Magazine

How to Support the Autism Community This Month and Beyond

Mar 20, 2021 03:06PM ● By Dr. Mallory A. Garrett Ed.D., LBA, BCBA-D

By: Dr. Mallory A. Garrett Ed.D., LBA, BCBA-D  

According to Webster’s dictionary, awareness is defined as “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact” and “concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development.”  

We can all have knowledge that autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the United States.  We can all be well-informed that 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism, up from 1 in 125 just ten years ago.  We can be aware that 500,000 individuals with autism are transitioning to adulthood in the United States, with 88,000 individuals on state waiting lists for housing services.    

This “awareness” means nothing if we only show our concern one month out of the year. Rather, we need to take action to change these statistics. Parents, caregivers, siblings, therapists, teachers, and lawmakers don’t just get to turn off autism at the end of the month; they face it 365 days of the year.  We owe it to the autism community to support them every day by going beyond awareness and taking action.   

So how do we take action?  

  • Contact your elected officials. You can inform them about the issues that are impacting the autism community. You can persuade them to make the right decisions on policies and laws by writing, calling, or emailing them.  

  • Be an advocate. Talk to your local school board. Write a letter or go to a meeting. Show your support for inclusion and for autism spectrum disorders in your local schools.  

  • Donate to a local organization that is actively helping families in your area.   

  • Volunteer as an autism buddy.   

  • Give parents of individuals with autism a “night off” by watching their child/children for the evening.  

  • If your child has a classmate on the spectrum, invite that classmate to your child’s next birthday party.   

  • Just ask.  Parents of individuals with autism often feel they can’t ask for help, so beat them to it.  Ask what you can do to help lighten their load.