National Autism Awareness Month


April is National Autism Awareness Month. Wear blue in support of those who live with Autism.

The month of April is nationally recognized as Autism Awareness Month. Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that affects nearly 1 in every 68 children, according to the National Autism Association. A diagnosis of autism normally takes place at a young age, and it means something different for each individual as social interaction, communication and cognitive function are all often affected.

“There is a huge spectrum. It goes all the way from social miscues down to not being able to look at someone in the eyes and not talking with them…basically not interacting with anything outside of themselves,” special education Life Skills teacher Judy Obermark said. “You can make progress if you get some help, especially early on. There’s no two the same.”

Individuals with autism often desire to be understood and accepted throughout their lives.

“I’m not only just autistic. I’m just different,” freshman Life Skills student Steven Dotson Saur said. “I’m just like a normal kid and the Life Skills class supports me.”

Although many skills are affected by autism, the ability to love one another isn’t.

“Just because I have a special disability doesn’t mean that I’m different from anybody else,” freshman Life Skills student Noah Thompson said. “People kind of treat you differently just because of it, but I’m caring and always try to be nice to people.”

As autism continues as the fastest growing developmental disorder, the presence of inclusion grows as well. Inclusion can come in the form of sensory rooms, adult housing opportunities, autism-friendly businesses and most importantly, the acceptance of those around you.

“This is turning into a larger and larger portion of our population,” social studies teacher Kerri Flynn said, a parent of two children with autism. “We’re seeing this become more and more prevalent, and I think we’re also beginning to understand that people are more diverse than maybe we thought they were.”

Although autism inclusion has come a long way in the past 20 years, there is a lot of work yet to be done.

“We have to start thinking about we are going to do with autistic people when they grow up and are adults,” Flynn said. “Right now they’re minor kids, but what are we going to do if they aren’t able to live independently at some point? That’s a scary thing to think about as a parent.”

While the future may be unclear for families affected by autism, the world is full of possibilities as inclusion improves and autism awareness is shared throughout communities nationwide. This April, and every month, educate yourself and become more aware of the Autistic community around you. Give a helping hand to not only individuals with autism, but their support system as well. Education makes the unknown a little less frightening.

“Sometimes the autistic population has some behaviors that look strange or they may make a little bit more noise than other people, especially if they get nervous or if it’s a new situation,” Obermark said, “…but it’s not as scary as it might look from a distance.”


If interested in learning more about the special needs community, you can contact WHS Life Skills teachers, All Abilities Volunteers or research more information on the National Autism Association’s website.