In the month of April, we recognize those that live with autism in an attempt to bring awareness to the fact that they are not to be looked down upon and should, instead,  be appreciated for their differences. We recognize that just because someone may have autism, it does not mean that they are any less of a person. This month’s purpose is to honor those on the autism spectrum and to empower them. We should celebrate the ways in which their brains work, and we should always remember that they are viewing the world in unique ways. 

Autism itself is defined by a range of conditions that could possibly affect how people learn, interact, communicate, and behave (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects about 1 in 44 children in the United States, and is about 4 times more likely in males than females. Autism can also be reliably diagnosed by age 2, but children may be diagnosed at earlier ages. The earlier that children are diagnosed, the more services they are able to get to help them be more successful. It is also important to note that autism cannot be “cured” but there are many services to aid those with autism, so that they can continue to grow and improve. 

Some people with autism can struggle when socializing with others, so if you ever see someone who seems that they are being very disconnected, then you should make an effort to talk to them. They deserve the right to be treated fairly and kindly. 

It is also important to remember to be respectful to those that are autistic and always ask what they are comfortable with. Some terms can offend certain people with autism, while those same terms can be preferred by others. Also, since autism is a spectrum, it means that not all people have the same experiences with it. Just because someone with autism may exhibit a certain behavior, it does not mean that all people with autism will show the same behavior. 

People with autism can be very intelligent just as others. They should not be looked down on just because their brain is wired differently from what most people consider “normal”. Children and people with autism have the ability to learn and succeed in school and in life. Similar to everyone, with the help of their doctors, specialists, communities, families, and providers, kids with autism are able to flourish.      

It is important to educate ourselves, not only during the month of April, but any chance that we can get. The more educated that people are, the closer we are to making a safe and healthy environment for those with autism. They should be recognized for their achievements and should be allowed to feel free to be themselves without judgment. It is important to realize that just because someone may act differently, does not mean that they are any less of a person. People with autism may have trouble with loud noises, textures, and overall sensory issues so it is important to respect that people with autism might need more space when they are overwhelmed. 

Those with autism can have short attention spans, lack of coordination, strict eating habits, aggressive behavior, and they may be impulsive. It is important to take this into consideration before you judge someone harshly for their behavior. They may also fixate on certain objects or hobbies and may have repetitive behaviors like twirling, jumping, rocking, and flapping. 

At Juniata High School, we should work towards forming a safe and welcoming environment for those with autism, so that they never ever feel as though they are out of place. If we take time to learn more about autism itself, then we can improve the atmosphere at our school. If students are educated on the topic, then they will be better equipped to make the effort towards making our school a better place. We should be kind and lift up those with autism, not only during the month of April, but for the rest of our lives.