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How to Celebrate National Autism Awareness Month

By Marina Maskaykina – GreaterGood.org

April is National Autism Awareness Month!

April 2, 2018, marks the 11th annual World Autism Awareness Day, which is an internationally recognized day that raises awareness for autism. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the world. Raising awareness helps people understand and not be frightened by the disability. This month, you can help people with autism by raising awareness as well as funds for the many autism-related caritable partners GreaterGood.org has!

Our partner’s programs are focused on ensuring people with autism have all the social and financial support they need. Whichever charity you support this month, you will be helping someone with autism improve their quality of life. The best way to support Autism Awareness Month is to turn it into Autism Action Month!

Although National Autism Awareness Month ends on April 30th, your support doesn’t have to! Keep supporting people with autism all year long by making your donation a reoccurring monthly gift by clicking “Make this a Monthly Gift” box when selecting your donation.

3 Autism Programs That Need Your Support

1. Help a Family Caring for a Child with Autism

Every person with autism deserves the best possible care, but not every family can afford the care their loved ones with autism need. Autism Speaks is helping families affected by autism during natural disasters and other catastrophic life events. When a catastrophic life event happens, these families often cannot pay for medical or house expenses. Your donation helps real people like the Rodriguez family (pictured below).

Rodriguez Family

Photo courtesy of Autism Speaks

“The Autism Cares Grant helped me to establish some independence and get back on my feet. I’ve been struggling as I try and navigate life on the autism spectrum. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I really want to become as independent as I can and it’s something I am working on doing. My parents were losing their house, so I was going to be left without a place to stay. The Autism Cares grant helped me help my parents save their house so not only myself, but my entire family could keep a roof over their head as well.”

-Kenny Rodriquez

Caring for a child with autism can already be overwhelming without the added stress of financial trouble. Give a helping hand to a struggling family affected by autism today!

2. Therapeutic Family Play Session for Children with Autism

Family play therapy is an innovative therapy option that keeps families closely involved with their child with autism. Play therapy as a family is a fun, positive opportunity to engage with children. These therapy sessions teach families to help children with autism develop gross and fine motor skills, as well as social and interaction skills. Specialists show families how to continue therapeutic play at home, so these sessions have a lasting positive effect.

Your donations will help children like Matthew (pictured below). He loves hunting for bugs, playing with friends, and running circles around his mom. Matthew has been coming to Lekotek for over a year and loves being able to socialize with his peers.

Matthew enjoying family play therapy

Photo courtesy of National Lekotek Foundation

Since 2016, your donations have provided nearly 60 hours of family therapy sessions for families affected by autism! This month, you can give another family the skills they need to help their children develop properly. Give an hour of family play therapy here!

3. In-Home Support for a Family Impacted by Autism

This program is yet another way you can help children and families affected by autism. This in-home support program helps children with autism build their skills in their own home or community-based setting. This kind of support program greatly reduces stress for parents. Specialists educate parents and family members on how to navigate insurance, school, and healthcare systems, as well as how to interact with their children with autism. In 2017, your donations helped nearly 60 children and over 200 additional family members get in-home therapeutic support.

Your donations are helping people like the Sumner family. When doctors diagnosed Joey with autism, his parents didn’t understand what autism really was. After a few months of going to St. David’s Center, they didn’t feel so lost.

Joey at St. David's Center

Photo of Joey courtesy of St. David’s Center

“The staff taught us how to deal with situations we were having in parenting Joey. They would ask us how we thought we should respond, and then took us step-by-step through the method that would work best with our son.”

-Joey’s mother, Nicole

When their second son, Cubby, was diagnosed with autism a few years later, the Sumners knew exactly what to do. St. David’s Center taught them how to interact differently with each boy, and taught the boys how to interact with each other. Now, both boys have graduated the autism treatment program, and their lives have improved drastically. Before the program, Joey was nonverbal, and his parents feared he would never talk. Now, thanks to St. David’s Center and your donations, Joey is having full conversations and interacting with his parents.

Cubby at therapy

Photo of Cubby courtesy of St. David’s Center

“Early intervention is so crucial and both our boys are living proof.”

-Nicole

A diagnosis of autism can be daunting for parents that don’t understand the disability. You can help educate families about autism and how to deal with it. Give a family affected by autism in-home education and support today!

Looking for Another Way to Help?

On top of these amazing programs, you can also donate directly to autism research! You can help fund global research into the causes, prevention, and treatments for autism. Funding research is one of the easiest ways you can help the autism community. There is so much misinformation out there about autism, but research helps raise understanding of the disability. Give to Autism Speaks, the largest autism research and advocacy organization, today!

However you choose to celebrate National Autism Awareness Month, the autism community thanks you!

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by Marina, April 3, 2018