April is Autism Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to spreading awareness about autism through various events that help to raise money for research about this developmental disorder. The Autism Society began holding Autism Awareness Month in the 1970’s.
Autism impacts social and communication skills. There are varying degrees of autism including Kanner’s Syndrome (classic autism), Rett Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Autism is measured on the Autism Spectrum Disorders scale and can range from mild to severe. Autism is typically diagnosed between birth and two years of age. When the diagnosis happens at a young age, interventions can begin to help the child with social interactions and learning communication skills.
Typically, a form titled ARI’s diagnostic form is used to diagnose autism. Questions about the pregnancy, birth, developmental growth stages, and behaviors of the child are used to calculate a score. This score is then utilized in part of the diagnosis process for autism.
There are many organizations and companies that are dedicated to helping individuals with autism. Many of them provide information on this disorder, raise funds for research, and provide support for families and individuals with autism.
The Autism Society
The Autism Society is a non-profit organization that strives to improve the lives of all individuals with autism. They are actively involved in pursuing educational initiatives for children with autism as well as holding conferences and providing assistance to families with autistic children. For Autism Awareness Month, The Autism Society has an article with an annotated list of events that are happening around the United States to build awareness and raise funds for autism research.
Autism Speaks is a non-profit advocacy organization for autism research, treatments, and support. Their website provides information about autism, ways to raise money for autism research, and support for families with autistic children. The information section is a great resource for teachers to learn what autism is, theories about what contributes to the development of autism, how it is diagnosed, how it is treated, special education services provided for students with autism, and family planning for a child with autism. These valuable resources can help to lead to the diagnosis and treatment of a student with autism and make the teacher more aware of classroom modifications that will need to be made for students with autism.
The Autism Education Network
The Autism Education Network provides information about special education rights for students with autism. They also coordinate trainings, programs, and services to help support families with autistic children. There is a resource center with links, books, downloads of autism reading materials, and connections to find experts or speakers in the field of autism. This network also helps families make connections with other families with autistic children in their area.
Vizzle is an online learning program for students with autism. There are pre-made lessons that can be customized to meet the student and classroom needs or teachers can also create their own lessons with the large database of pictures and sounds. Students learn academic-based curriculum with the use of pictures, sounds, video, and animations. Lessons can also include teaching students social, communication, and every-day task skills.
Article By Laura Ketcham
Picture By Beverly & Pack