With the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) on the rise, both in the United States and worldwide, it is more important than ever to get involved in the ASD community. Today, approximately one out of every 68 American children has been identified with ASD, and while understanding and treatment of ASD has come a long way in recent years, there is still much to be done to ensure that each and every one of these children receive the help, support, and understanding they need throughout childhood and their adult lives.
How You Can Get Involved
Support for ASD can come in many different forms. One of the most effective ways to get involved is by supporting national or local ASD nonprofit associations, such as Autism Speaks or the Autism Society, which are dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with ASD through advocacy efforts, research funding, and community support. Organizations like these welcome gifts of either money or time. If you are interested in making a financial contribution, you can make a donation yourself, donate in honor of a loved one, support a fundraising event such as a charity walk, or participate in one of many possible giving programs. Funds raised through these methods go to support a wide range of programs and resources. If you prefer to give your time, there are many volunteer opportunities, from planning fundraising events to helping out in the office, which help to make a valuable difference.
If you are more interested in starting small, simply raising awareness of ASD and its unique issues remains an important task. Signing up for and sharing newsletters and information from local ASD associations is an easy and positive way to promote greater understanding of ASD both in your home and in your community. Another awareness-building opportunity comes every April with National Autism Awareness Month, full of special events and public education opportunities all designed to help build a better world for people with ASD. You can participate by attending an event, hosting your own event, or simply by proudly displaying the NAAM logo on your social media sites.
Why It’s Important
As a lifelong condition affecting 2 million children in the United States, ASD is closer to home than you might imagine. Children with ASD live in every neighborhood across the country, and come from every type of family, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. All these children need access to accurate diagnoses, effective behavioral therapies, educational support, and better medicines to manage severe symptoms, but many of these resources remain out of reach for these young individuals and their families. Giving back in support of ASD not only helps provide and improve these services, but also helps to create a more understanding and compassionate society which allows individuals with ASD to be valued simply as individuals.