April 2023 Newsletter Ashkin Counseling
April was first established as Autism Awareness Month 50 years ago by the Autism Society. The goal at the time was to educate communities and increase awareness related to autism. But information was very limited and ways to increase awareness were not readily available. Children with disabilities were separated from their peers at school and parents were given limited options for services. In the 1990’s the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed which mandated that people with disabilities, including autism were given equal access to education, employment, and public services. But I know from teaching at that time that children were still isolated from their peers and although IEP’s were written they were often highly unrealistic and not taken very seriously. In 2007 World Autism Day was originated by the United Nations to increase awareness and acceptance of behavior that is not neurotypical, in order to decrease discrimination at school, in the workplace, and in the community. It also highlighted the need for early diagnosis and intervention. People are encouraged to wear blue that day to represent the need for calmness and serenity for people with autism to reduce sensory overload, as well as to represent the early puzzle piece symbol related to autism that represented its complexity. Conferences, workshops, seminars, walks, social media campaigns and various other events are organized all over the world.
In 2023 we have made great strides when it comes to autism. There is a growing emphasis on early detection and research is being conducted to identify biomarkers in infants and toddlers so treatment can start even earlier. Treatment plans are becoming more personalized with the understanding that autism is a spectrum and presents differently in different individuals. Educational, speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and behavioral therapies are becoming more advanced especially as technology is developed to meet the special needs of children with autism. Children and adults are being made aware of more accommodations at school and in the workplace to help them to meet with success. Social media despite it’s downfalls has allowed the message of autism acceptance and detection to spread quickly.
But it can still be a very daunting process to walk through as a parent. Don’t walk alone. Develop your support team filled with professionals such as your pediatrician, a psychologist, and service providers that offer speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and behavioral therapy. See what your school district offers and what your insurance company covers before spending money out of pocket. Ask family and friends to join your team and to give you the needed breaks to be alone, stroll through Target, or take a long bath. Educate yourself so you can be the best advocate for your child. And take a deep breath. You are not alone.
For more resources and information on autism visit ashkincounseling.com.