This past April 2 was International Autism Awareness Day, and it also marked the beginning of Autism Month.
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with people and how they experience the world around them. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated amount of 1 in 59 children in the United States. Thus, it is a very common disease that many people have trouble understanding and realizing the significance of raising awareness for.
There are three types of autism spectrum disorders: Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Autistic Disorder is when an individual has language delays, communication challenges, and unusual behaviors or interests. Asperger Syndrome, and people with this type of autism usually have milder symptoms. Although they may still have social challenges and depict unusual behaviors, they typically do not have any problems with language or intellectual disability. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), those with this type usually have fewer symptoms and only slightly have social communication challenges.
What needs to be recognized however is that despite there being only three types of autistic disorders, many people are affected in a variety of ways, and there really isn’t a cause for this action. Furthermore, there is, unfortunately, no actual cure for this disease.
Therefore, it is important to raise awareness for autism because raised funds can go to diagnosing individuals and providing them with the necessary resources needed. It is also important because it gives individuals with autism a sense of hope and comfort.
According to the National Autistic Society, individuals with autism can experience severe social isolation and are often left out from activities, this can discourage them to try new things. They might see themselves as different and let that become a disadvantage. So, by raising awareness, many people and places (especially schools) can create an environment that gives individuals with autism the ability to do simple everyday tasks like most others.
One example of an opportunity for individuals with autism is a program that many schools have called the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics is the world’s largest organization for people with disabilities and it provides year round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic type sports.
Crescenta Valley High School is one of the many schools that have this club and recently had the Spring Games on Saturday, April 13, 2019. During the games, many students and other volunteers helped train the people with disabilities and got them ready to compete. The Crescenta Valley High School marching band, cheer, and the Rosemont Middle School cheer were there to cheer the athletes on and encourage them.
It was a seven hour long event, starting from 8am to 3pm. In full preparation for the event, before the games began, volunteers had to attend training with regards to taking care of the athlete and making sure they participate in the competition safely.
Wendy Sanuik, a volunteer, stated, ”We were there to motivate the athletes, but they were motivating us. One young athlete turned toward the crowd and started raising his hands to have us cheer more.” By raising awareness and helping individuals with autism, people are able to experience a heart touching side in creating a relationship with people with disabilities.
Sharon Pak, Grade 11
Crescenta Valley High School