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Grab your puzzle ribbons it’s National Autism Awareness Month

It can be diagnosed at any age, but when a toddler stops smiling, waving, gesturing, and  responding often times it’s a sign of autism. 

The symbol for autism awareness is the Puzzle Ribbon. It is the most recognized symbol of the autism community. Wearing a Puzzle Ribbon, or changing your social media profile picture to one, shows your support for the autism community.

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder, is diagnosed when an individual is challenged with social situations.. There isn’t one type of autism, but there are many causes. The causes can be genetic or environmental.

“Autism is a disability that affects a child’s communication,” said Dr. Rebecca Mullican, Executive Director at Jackson Autism Center. “Their social skills are affected. You’re either going to see a lack of social skills or social skills that may seem odd or don’t follow social norms.”

The most obvious autism symptoms occur are between the ages of two and three, but sometimes it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism affects 1 in 65 children in the United States. For boys its 1 out of 42 and for girls its every 1 out of 189. About a third of everyone diagnosed with autism will remain non-verbal.

Signs of autism include: 

  • lack of social smiling, warm or joyful expressions.
  • doesn’t make eye contact
  • doesn’t respond to their name
  • no babbling after one-year old
  • doesn’t use gestures to communicate
  • prefers to be alone
  • remains non-verbal or has trouble communicating
  • performs repetitive behaviors.
  • Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors

Dr. Mullican said that no two children with autism are the same.

“You’ve probably heard, if you’ve seen one child with autism, you’ve seen one child of autism because none of them are exactly alike. They’re all affected in different ways,” said Dr. Mullican.

Around 50 years ago the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness. They are encouraging inclusion and self-determination for everyone, especially persons in the ASD community. During this years Autism Awareness Month, which is April, the society wants to go above and beyond and encourage friends and collaborators to become partners in a movement toward acceptance.

How do you do that? Well you can sign up for e-newsletter, Autism Matters, to share ideas on how to make the world better for people with autism. You can also share your experience stories there.

Dr. Mullican said for people who do not have a child with autism, or work with kids with autism on a regular basis can never understand what it is like.

“If you see a child that seems to be struggling or seems a little out of place in the community giving that family just a smile even or being polite to them goes a long way,” said Dr. Mullican.

For more information on the Jackson Autism Center you can visit their website or Facebook page to find out what “sensory friendly” community events are happening in your area.

If you want to learn more about autism click HERE. 

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