When the movement for “autism awareness” first began, the goal truly was as simple as making people aware of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). And while there is still a great need to inform people about autism, the focus has shifted away from simple awareness—that is, letting people know that the disorder exists—and toward the more complex idea of education and acceptance. The percentage of people who are actually unaware of ASD is thankfully so much smaller than it was just a decade ago, and, thanks to many great organizations and global campaigns, there is widespread knowledge of autism today.
Unfortunately, while awareness has grown over the past few years, a great deal of misinformation (or a lack of information) has also spread with it. That is what makes autism awareness so vital to those on the spectrum and their loved ones. Society’s misconceptions about autism range from outdated information to the absurd, and we must keep pushing for better awareness of what autism is, what it is not, and what can be done for those on the spectrum who need help.
Here are six practical means of raising autism awareness that everyone can do, starting today.
6. Donate To A Cause
The list of great organizations, charities, networks and groups that support people with autism and their families is far too long to list here. They range from nationwide to local organizations, from non-profits working in autism research to support groups and social clubs. With a little bit of research, you can find organizations that have a positive impact and use donations properly. Whether you’re passionate about support groups for families, social clubs for young people on the spectrum, or therapy and autism research, there are lots of amazing organizations to choose from.
We at The Autism Site suggest finding your local autism organization and helping make a difference by giving a donation—whether that be a monetary donation, a donation of your time and efforts, or a donation of goods that might be needed. Starting in your hometown and then working to state and national organizations means you can make a real difference in helping those on the spectrum today.
5. Post On Social Media
Pretty much everyone you know is on social media, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other platforms. Since that’s where people are and where they’re looking, that’s a great place to start spreading awareness about autism. By posting about autism on social media, you can help start conversations, lend support and show support of those dealing with the disorder. You can also do your part to spread real awareness of ASD and get rid of stereotypes, stigmas, and misinformation.
You never know who may be going through hard times, and a post of encouragement or support could mean the difference between a good day and a really bad one. Or perhaps a positive or informative post could be what makes someone more aware of ASD and more understanding of the issue.
4. Volunteer At A Fundraiser
Let’s face it; not everyone has the time, money, or ability to start a non-profit organization! But we can find time to help out those organizations when they are in need (and believe it, they will all welcome some extra help!). Getting connected with your local autism group or a national organization and volunteering at a fundraiser or event is an excellent way to do your part for autism awareness. Whether it’s a bake sale going on for the high school’s ASD social club, a golf outing for a support group, or a big event for an organization, there are countless ways you can volunteer and use your talents to help those groups and people on the spectrum.
It comes down to using the resources and talents that you have, not focusing on the ones you don’t have. You may not be able to give a lot of money to a fundraiser, but you can be a volunteer and work at the fundraiser. Besides being a huge help, you will also get better connected to the amazing people in the organization. Those connections can turn into new opportunities, new friendships, and new ways to help spread autism awareness.
Keep reading on the next page for more ways to spread autism awareness!
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.