Spotlight: World Autism Awareness Week

by Anamika Dutta

March 27th through April 2nd, 2017 marks annual World Autism Awareness Week. To celebrate this week, the College of the Holy Cross’ Autism Awareness Club held a series of events that shed light on autism and how it affects individuals. To complement the efforts of the Autism Awareness organization, The Crusader is spreading awareness of autism spectrum disorder to the Holy Cross community.

What is autism? Autism is a spectrum condition, meaning that there is no one type of autism. There is a wide variation in the challenges faced and strengths held by each person with autism. Autism affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Understanding and relating to other people, as well as everyday school, family, and work life tends to be more difficult for people with autism. For some, the world feels overwhelming and causes anxiety, especially when their daily routines are suddenly altered. People with autism tend to have a very literal understanding of language, which is why sarcasm and jokes can be frustrating in conversation. Although people with autism deal with these differences on a daily basis, it is important to understand that autism is neither an illness nor a disease, but rather, just a part of someone’s identity.

How common is autism? Autism is much more prevalent than most people realize. Approximately 1 in 68 children are born with autism. Additionally, it is more common in boys than girls. 1 in 42 boys will be diagnosed with autism compared to 1 in 189 girls.

What are some symptoms of autism? Although individuals with autism vary in their behaviors, typical symptoms include a delayed learning of language, difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation, difficulty with executive functioning, narrow and intense interests, and sensory sensitivities. Someone on the spectrum could follow only a few of these behaviors, or others not listed here. Autism cannot be “outgrown,” but intervention techniques can greatly improve the lives of those living with autism.

Why do we need autism awareness? There are still many misconceptions as to what autism spectrum disorder is and how it affects those living with it. As a society, there is not as much acceptance and understanding as there should be because we often do not know how to accept people who think and behave differently from us. We need awareness to create more inclusive communities, where we can recognize and respond effectively and compassionately to people with autism.

All proceeds collected by Autism Awareness this week will go to Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization dedicated to providing lifelong solutions to those on the autism spectrum disorder.

photo courtesy: Google Images

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