The month of April typically brings thoughts of tax returns due, but there is a lot more to this month. April is also Autism Awareness Month, a topic we feel passionate about here at Aviance Capital Partners.
As a financial planning and investment advisory firm working with both individuals with autism as well as their families, we believe it is important to highlight this month and bring awareness to a community that is often overlooked. First observed in 1972 by the Autism Society, Autism Awareness Month is meant to call attention to the condition itself and promote acceptance and inclusivity of the individuals whose life it effects.
In this article, we explore what autism is and what you can do to raise awareness, promote acceptance, and support the community.
What is Autism?
Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex condition characterized by neurodevelopmental delays, difficulties communicating, and impairment in social interactions. Autism is considered a spectrum because each person experiences the condition in a unique way.
Though there is a common set of criteria that define ASD, there is no single way in which these characteristics are expressed. For instance, one child may display no outward indications of ASD while another may require significant assistance with everyday tasks, making their condition more observable.
Common signs of ASD include (1):
- Reduced eye contact
- Lack of facial expressions
- Does not engage in imaginative play
- Repeats words, phrases, or movements
- Hyperactivity or inattentive behavior
- Obsessive interests
- Delayed cognitive, movement, and/or language skills
There is no cure for autism, but there are many therapeutic and educational resources that can help alleviate the challenges associated with the condition. Common treatment methods include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, and early childhood intervention.(2)
Why is Autism Awareness Important?
People often assume a person with autism is “high-functioning” or “normal” if they are able to speak and interact with the world in a relatively easy way. Conversely, people also assume that a person who doesn’t speak or who requires substantial every day support is abnormal or incapable of expressing themselves meaningfully. This is the stigma that Autism Awareness Month aims to erase.
Individuals with autism are just that—individuals. They come in all shapes and sizes, with likes, dislikes, skills, and challenges. Promoting Autism Awareness Month is a way to celebrate the individuality of those who make up the ASD community and let them know they are valued for more than just their condition.
Considering ASD is one of the most common childhood disabilities, with 1 in 44 children diagnosed,3 it’s more important than ever to support and uplift the community through acceptance, inclusion, and awareness.
What Can You Do to Help?
If you want to get involved, there are several ways to give back to the ASD community and work toward a more inclusive world. Here are some options to consider:
- Donate: If you would like to make a charitable contribution to an organization that researches ASD or provides support to those with the condition, here are 20 charities that are worth looking into. Before donating, be sure to thoroughly research the organization to ensure your contribution is spent in a way that aligns with your charitable goals.
- Participate: Many organizations have local chapters that host events or need volunteers. Connect with your local organizations to find out how you can get involved.
- Educate: One of the best ways to support Autism Awareness Month is to learn more about the condition and educate those around you. Learning to recognize autism and the attached stigma is the first step in raising awareness and keeping the ASD community safe from shame, myths, and assumptions.
- Advocate: Support legislative bills that aim to protect and improve the quality of life for people with autism. Contact your local representatives to share your thoughts and express the importance of legislative action.
How We Help
As a firm, we are dedicated to helping individuals with autism and their families by providing comprehensive financial planning focused on their unique needs. During the month of April, we are showing our support by raising awareness among our peers and clients. To learn more about how you can get involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (239) 598-4747.