Across the world on April 2, an increasing number of iconic landmarks, businesses, homes, buildings and people will incorporate the colour blue into their day in support of World Autism Awareness Day and those who are living with autism.
April is also the start of Autism Awareness Month in Australia, a time to focus on the importance of understanding autism, and accepting and supporting those with the condition.
"Autism isn't a tragedy, ignorance is," is a catchphrase growing in popularity and highlights the need for an increase in community awareness across the country.
According to the Australian Government's Health Direct website, approximately one in 150 Australians are affected by autism, with boys four times more likely than girls. Despite these numbers, the causes of autism are largely unknown, though research suggests that there may be genetic factors or something in the environment involved.
"Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people behave and interact with the world around them," Health Direct states.
"It may be mild, moderate or severe. The main features of autism are difficulty in social interactions and communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests. Children or adults with autism may be highly intelligent, of normal intelligence or have learning difficulties."
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While the many varying levels of autism will require varying levels of support, there are some general guides which we all should be mindful of when interacting with those living with the condition.
Be aware that people often have trouble picking up and reading social cues, so they may not interact with you as you would expect. But, taking time to get to know them, being patient and understanding and accepting them for who they are will make your life a great deal richer.
Autism-friendly events and educational activities will be taking place all month, so why not take the time to increase your understanding of the condition and become an agent for greater acceptance?
- Visit healthdirect.gov.au/autism for information.