Understanding Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month and while most of us know about autism or have heard many of us aren’t very clear about what the phrase “on the spectrum” really means.

I recently took on the task of writing a feature article in honor of Autism Awareness Month for the April edition of my local neighborhood magazine.

As a writer, I’m sometimes assigned to write a story on a topic I know next to nothing about. While it can be intimidating to tackle an unfamiliar subject, I enjoy the research and discovery process. The real task is putting together the information I have gathered in an interesting way that will educate readers.

I knew very little about autism when I took on this story. I began conducting research and interviewed the Marketing and Development Director of a non-profit in Rochester, NY called AutismUp that offers support for families dealing with an autism diagnosis.

autism_awareness_month

I learned that autism is as a complex disorder of brain development that affects the way an individual perceives the world. It usually involves communication challenges that make social interaction difficult and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. Symptons can can range from social challenges to delay in motor skills and unusual responses to sensory input. Because the symptoms and severity of autism vary widely, each individual with autism has different challenges, strengths and needs.

As the symptoms of autism vary, so do the paths for treatment, which is often tailored to address the needs of each individual. I learned that nearly all children and adults with autism benefit from therapies that can reduce their symptoms and increase their skills and abilities.

The real discovery I made and what I hope readers will take away is that a “cure” for autism isn’t what is needed. What is essential is understanding and acceptance.

No matter the subject, I always write with the intention to inform, engage and perhaps even inspire readers. I was glad to write this story, and I hope it helps others in the community to better understand autism.

Feel free to check out an online portfolio of my stories, here.

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