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Autism Awareness: Spreading Hope And Acceptance Through ABA Therapy

This blog article is part of a series dedicated to Autism Awareness Month. To read the previous article in the series, click here!

As a parent, guardian, or close friend of someone diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may feel motivated to help spread autism awareness and education. Although roughly 1-in-44 children are diagnosed with ASD, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this increasingly common developmental disorder is largely misunderstood. Children diagnosed with ASD are not identical. In fact, one of the reasons autism is so challenging is that it affects individuals differently, meaning there’s no one-sized-fits-all approach to treatment.

Spreading Autism Awareness: Learning the Basics

The first step to spreading autism awareness is to learn the basics, from early warning signs to different types of autism therapy. Some children with autism have speaking delays that they’ll eventually grow out of, while others may be non-verbal their entire lives. What’s more, some children with autism have no language issues whatsoever and instead face challenges with socialization and relationship building.

To help spread autism awareness, it’s important to understand that individuals diagnosed with ASD are just as unique and vibrant as everyone else. The goal of autism awareness isn’t to hyper-focus on all the ways children with autism struggle, but to help them build foundational skills that will lead to more fulfilling, independent lives. Focusing too much on the negatives can leave parents and family members feeling hopeless, which is counterproductive to the type of progress we all want to see. Instead, approach the subject of autism with hope, positivity, and boundless compassion.

Another challenge is that autism sometimes comes with other comorbidities that can mask the underlying condition, making it harder to identify the early signs and take deliberate action. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, common co-occurring physical and mental health conditions related to autism include:

  • Epilepsy/seizures

  • Sleep disorders/disturbance

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Gastrointestinal disorders

  • Feeding/eating challenges

  • Obesity

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Bipolar disorder

While educating yourself about these co-occurring conditions can help you be more informed about autism, it’s important to seek an official diagnosis before you act. Child neurologists and pediatric psychologists can provide a wealth of information on autism treatments and support, but most direct care approaches require an official diagnosis. Encouraging friends and family members to have their children screened for autism at key developmental milestones is an easy way to spread autism awareness in your own life.

Autism Awareness and Acceptance: Two Sides of the Same Coin

There are a lot of misconceptions about autism and individuals diagnosed with ASD, which can be frustrating for parents and anyone looking to spread autism awareness. Sharing your own experiences and keeping pace with the latest autism research can help cut through the noise. Afterall, while most people have heard about autism, many do not have a realistic representation of what individuals with ASD are really like. There’s a lot of popular media focusing on high-functioning individuals with autism, which leaves those with more severe cases of ASD at the margins.

Remember, the goal of autism awareness is to promote understanding and help individuals diagnosed with ASD access the help they need to excel. Every single child, teenager, and adult with autism has their own needs, personality, goals, and thoughts. Lumping them into one broad category based on their developmental challenges does a huge disservice to them as individuals. Instead of speaking about autism in general terms, try to keep things rooted in your personal experience, or take that extra moment to personalize your message. Afterall, we’re all in this together.

Autism Inclusivity

It is important to be inclusive when considering the needs of people with autism. Both children and adults diagnosed with ASD may struggle with sensory issues and can be easily overwhelmed by a lot of stimulation. In addition, there might be communication barriers depending on whether the person is verbal or non-verbal. Try to be aware that each person with autism has different needs – asking individuals with autism, or a close family member, what they’re comfortable with is key.

For example, an outing at a grocery store might seem like a mundane experience to someone without autism. However, for someone with autism, this type of outing can be extremely uncomfortable. The lights are bright, there are many different sounds and smells, and there are people everywhere. This can lead to individuals with autism receding from social interactions or even having a sensory meltdown due to overstimulation.

Tantrums and meltdowns are challenging both for the individual with autism and their primary caregiver; they can lead to unwanted attention from people passing by, especially if they are unaware of autism and various neurotypes. It is important to be aware and accept that people have very different lived experiences, rather than staring uncomfortably or forcing someone to be in a situation that will be entirely overwhelming. Autism inclusivity starts with considering our individual reactions to individuals with mental health challenges and striving to accept them as they are, not as we want them to be.

Community Involvement

If you want to be more involved in a community that helps spread awareness and acceptance, consider signing up for or hosting a fundraiser. Start by seeking out autism societies near you, as many will host fundraising events and walks to raise money to help families pay for services or conduct further research on ASD. Hosting or participating in an event like this is an easy way to get family, friends and coworkers involved.

People who are motivated to get involved will likely learn something new about autism throughout the conversation or event. In addition, these events give families the opportunity to meet other supportive and inclusive people who will better understand the nuances of autism. Each region will have their own chapter, national organization or will have local city or state-run initiatives. If you’re already part of the Applied ABC family, contact your BCBA for information about local autism organizations and upcoming events.

For parents and community members looking to help spread autism awareness, the following resource list is a great place to start:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC provides comprehensive information on autism statistics, diagnosis, research, and treatment, which can be useful as you learn more about ASD. Along with their autism awareness content, the CDC also provides free resources about supporting children diagnosed with ASD, including positive parenting tips.

Child Mind Institute 

This article by the Child Mind Institute is directed towards parents on how to explain their child’s autism diagnosis to others. The article gives clear and concise bullet points to help break-down autism and the questions people may ask about it.

Autism Speaks Support for Family Members

Autism Speaks compiled various articles into this “tool kit” for families, which may come in handy when explaining autism to friends and family. The page even includes a “Support for Friends” section that provides an overview for friends of parents of children with autism. This includes how to best support their friend, their friend’s child, and the entire family.


This article, published by PBS-affiliate WHYY, provides great resources for people seeking to learn more about autism. In addition, they provide easy and simple ways that one can be an advocate and support for children with autism and their families.

This blog article is part of a series dedicated to Autism Awareness Month. To read the next article in the series, click here! 


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