As we enjoy the (mostly) beautiful spring weather, let’s not forget that April is Autism Awareness Month.
Autism includes a wide range of conditions, commonly called Autism Spectrum Disorders, that are characterized by challenges with social skills, speech and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.
Arts ‘n Autism in Tuscaloosa
Residents in Tuscaloosa benefit from several supportive resources. Specifically, Arts ‘n Autism, a local organization, focuses on visual and performing arts for children with autism. They offer after-school programs and summer camps, providing invaluable support for numerous families.
Our own Mary Morgan, Realtor and Property Manager at Carrie Fitts Real Estate, is the mother of an eight-year-old son with autism. She speaks highly of Arts ‘n Autism, calling it a godsend. Her son has been going to their programs since he was four, and it has not only answered her need for after-school care, but it has helped him in many ways. “It’s been so nice to have people help us through his milestones and difficult times and help us understand him better so that he can be himself,” says Mary.
Her son, a second grader, attends Arts ‘n Autism regularly and has benefited greatly. They design the programs for preschoolers through young adults. All month long, you can help by donating to their “Piece by Piece” fundraising event at participating local businesses, or you can donate directly through their website.
University of Alabama’s Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic
Another available resource in this area is The University of Alabama’s Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic. This clinic provides support to individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and associated mental health concerns through comprehensive evaluation and therapy services, research opportunities, and consultation services.
Part of the Regional Autism Network, the UA clinic is one of five autism resource hubs in the state. Its goal is to connect people with ASD, their families, educators, and service providers to the information, services, and support that best meet their needs. Staffed by experts in autism spectrum disorder, the clinic offers speech therapy, comprehensive assessments, behavior analysis, and more.
Find a way to help: donate or volunteer
What can you do to help those affected by autism spectrum disorder? Donate to one of the support services, such as those mentioned above. Consider volunteering your time as well. Arts ‘n Autism seeks volunteers to work alongside teachers with class activities. If you think you’re a good fit, sign up to volunteer at the Arts ‘n Autism volunteer webpage.
Moreover, to support this cause effectively, it’s crucial to take the initiative and educate yourself about this condition. Understand that each person experiences autism differently, and there are many types, not just one. In the words of Mary Morgan, “Autism is a HUGE spectrum, and it looks different for every person.” She goes on to say that people should not be afraid to talk about autism with families affected by it. “We love to tell you how our kiddos are different and funny and exasperating and lovable,” she adds. “They are as individual as you and I are, and they deserve to be treated like individuals.”
To learn more about autism check out the links listed above, or visit Autism Speaks for more information.