During the month of April, we celebrate National Autism Awareness Month. This month was created by the Autism Society of America in April of 1970 to promote awareness, acceptance, and inclusion for individuals with autism. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects an individual’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Symptoms often appear in early childhood and recognition of the signs can increase early diagnosis and intervention, which can change lives.
You may recognize the puzzle piece ribbon and its association to autism, but do you know about its origin? The ribbon was adopted in 1990 as the universal symbol of autism awareness. According to the Autism Society of America, the puzzle symbolizes the complexity of the autism spectrum. “The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope — hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and access to appropriate services/supports, people with autism will lead full lives, able to interact with the world on their own terms.” The backstory of this image is deeply meaningful and important to reflect on as we raise awarness this month.
General awareness of autism is increasing every day. Just last month, the beloved television show, Sesame Street announced the introduction of a Muppet that is on the autism spectrum. This is a breakthrough for people with disabilities to be represented on a prominent, influential program that is broadcast around the world. However, there is still work to be done. Awareness is critical to increase early diagnosis and intervention and to normalize the disability in mainstream society. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating autism awareness this month. The Autism Society's event page is a good place to get started if you're interested in getting involved.