Autism Awareness Month Here on the Suncoast

April is Autism Awareness Month, and a lot of resources trying to spread awareness and provide support here on the Suncoast. Why is autism needing more awareness and education? Well, most everyone knows someone with children on the autism spectrum is dealing with symptoms of this disorder or has heard the term. With such a wide-ranging impact on people’s lives, ensuring that people know how best to support people dealing with or the caretakers of those with autism is crucial.

The Mayo Clinic defines autism, “Autism spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing social interaction and communication problems. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. The term “spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.” This ambiguity of knowing exactly how autism will exhibit makes things a little tough on caretakers and others dealing with individuals impacted by autism. Learning how to best support people with a range of symptoms and providing various services is critical.

Here are five ways that you can be proactive throughout the year:

  • Educate Yourself: Awareness starts with each person taking responsibility for themselves. Do your part to understand more about what autism is (and isn’t) and how you can interact more effectively with individuals with autism.
  • Attend Local Events: Get actively involved in supporting autism awareness and activities in your area. Many groups have local chapters and hold events throughout the year.
  • Be an Advocate. Stand up for children and adults with autism. Don’t let others put them down or talk negatively.
  • Speak Up: Write or call your state representatives, local legislators, or other leaders regarding proposed legislation that affects those with autism.
  • Be a Positive Role Model. Pay attention to your own actions and words when it comes to autism. Set a good example for your children (and community) when interacting with others and helping those with autism to thrive. Make sure they feel accepted and included in your life.
Autism Awareness

Here is a list in no particular order of additional autism-related resources and links here on the Suncoast:

  • Florida Autism Parents and Friends Support Group – The goal of this group is to bring together parents, families, loved ones, and educators of special needs children and adults to become a group that can help support one another to make our children and each other stronger.
  • Sarasota Autism Art Advancement inc. – Develop and implement training and exposure to different forms of art for Autistic Artists
  • Florida Autism Resources and Support – This group is for members to post questions or concerns relating to Autism, to reach out for help, or to offer support to others. We are all experiencing the same journey even if we travel different paths!
  • Autism Society of Florida – For 34 years, they have been working to ensure full participation and self-determination in every aspect of life for people across the autism spectrum.
  • Hopebridge360 Autism Therapy Center – Hopebridge360 is a one-of-kind comprehensive and coordinated treatment plan which provides a full range of professional services in one location for a child with autism and other developmental delays. 

Autism is something that continues to be prevalent in our society. Many can function with this disorder, but at differing levels than might be considered average. Other people might have symptoms that limit their ability to fully function independently. Being aware of how to support these individuals is crucial for those with the disorder and caretakers walking beside them. As our communities grow in understanding of this unique disorder and develop ways in which to help, we all get stronger. May we all help everyone in our communities through our time, talents, and voices helping ensure everyone has the support they need for the most enriched life possible here on the Suncoast!

Photo courtesy of Deposit Photos/Unsplash

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