April is Autism Awareness Month
April 22, 2021
Contributed by Sarah Lawrence
This month marks the 51st Anniversary of the first National Autism Awareness Month established by the Autism Society in April 1970. Autism is defined as a serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact. The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors.
In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control reported that approximately one in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to 2016 data. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
The goal of this month is to educate the public and bring awareness about autism. Early recognition, as well as behavioral, educational, and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning.
According to the Autism Society there is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism compared to in neurotypical children.
Established in 2019, Wahkiakum Autism Awareness set up a Facebook page and organized a charity walk to raise awareness and funds for children with autism and special needs in Wahkiakum county.
Working together with the school district, they plan to add a sensory room for all students but particularly those with behavioral challenges. Funds raised to date have been used to purchase a forest themed sensory pathway, a calming bubble tower with multiple color options, and eight pressure sensory floor tiles.
Because of covid-19 restrictions, most of the items have not been accessible, but organizers hope to move forward this summer.