Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Signs of autism often appear by age 2 or 3, and it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months.
How familiar are you with Autism Spectrum Disorder? Do you have a child in your class with autism? Or a friend who has a child with autism? According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects about 1 in 44 children in the U.S. today. In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, let’s bring to light a few important truths to understand about Autism and children who are impacted by the disorder.
3 Truths to Understand About Autism
- Autism is a spectrum disorder. First and foremost, it’s important to be aware that autism is a spectrum disorder – yes, emphasis on the spectrum. This simply means that there is no one type of autism, but many. Each person diagnosed with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges, as do all people. If you have been around or taught children with autism you may have a good general idea of what autism looks like, but remember, every single person is affected and functions differently. In fact, many consider autism to be a neurological difference. Neurodiversity is the idea that it's normal and acceptable for people to have brains that function differently from one another rather than thinking there is something wrong or problematic when someone’s brain operate’s differently. Really, if you think about it, we are all neurologically different.
- Children with autism CAN interact with others. While social behavioral and communication challenges are symptoms of ASD, every child with the diagnosis is unique. Some have not learned yet how to verbally communicate while others simply interpret social cues or nonverbal language differently. Regardless of where they fall on the spectrum, individuals with autism are just like the rest of us who need and benefit from social interactions.
- Children with autism have feelings and emotions. Children with autism are often thought to have few or no emotions. This is a myth! While they may need help expressing and understanding their emotions, children with autism have just as many feelings as anyone else–and in some cases, more! Because children with autism can have trouble communicating and expressing their emotions, their words and actions can be misunderstood as acting out or bad behavior.
Let’s Celebrate Differences
Join me in supporting full inclusion and acceptance for all individuals, but especially those with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs. Just look around–we’re all different. We look different, have different personalities, like different foods, enjoy different activities, and have different perspectives on the world around us. Similarities may bring us together, but it’s our differences that make this world a beautiful and colorful place.
Enjoy a More Colorful World with Guion The Lion
My personal experience with Down syndrome and passion for inclusion inspired me to write Guion The Lion, a children’s book that conveys a message of empathy, to be used as a social emotional learning tool. In raising my 3 kids, I have become a big believer in social emotional learning. ALL children – those with and without special needs – need help developing social emotional skills, like kindness, empathy and inclusion.
Using colorful illustrations and charming animal characters, Guion The Lion shows that new perspectives can open the door to unexpected fun. My hope for the children’s story is that it encourages children to embrace others’ differences and perspectives before they begin forming their own judgements and assumptions.
Order a copy today! Follow Guion The Lion on Facebook and Instagram for social emotional learning resources, inspiration and more.