A Non-Decorating Post About Autism (Autism Awareness)

Did you know that today, April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day, and April is autism awareness month?

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I know, what does that have to do with decorating, right?  Well, it doesn’t.

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But given that it’s a day to raise awareness about autism, and that I have an (albeit small) audience to share some awareness with, I couldn’t let the day pass without addressing it.  Even if you were expecting a decorating post, I’d love  for you to stick around just a few more minutes. I promise to keep it short. autism awareness

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When I grew up in the 70s/80s, I don’t think I really even heard about autism.  It makes sense, though, since back then, the estimated autism rate was 4 in 10,000 – or, 1 in 2500 (1980 stat).  So the chances that you ‘knew’ somebody who’d been diagnosed with autism were slim. (But that doesn’t mean you didn’t.)

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In any case, the first introduction that most of us had to autism was the movie Rain Man. I was in high school at the time, and I remember Rain Man well. For me, and for most adults my age and older, this is the stereotype that stuck.  Even 25 years later, Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of an autistic man with extreme math skills, poor social skills and obsession with routine is the association most people make with autism.

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Fast forward to 2013.

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Now, in my own children’s generation, and perhaps yours’, the rate of autism is estimated 1 in 50 to 100 (depending on the source), with boys being 4-5x more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

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No that wasn’t a typo. 1 in 50.  I was shocked too.

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My intention is not to go into all the reasons why this is so as I’m certainly no expert, but if you’re interested, you can read about the theories here.

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Instead, the point I really want to make is that there are now hundreds of thousands more children out there who’ve been diagnosed with autism since our school days.  Yet,  for the most part, the same 1980s stereotype remains.  I know this because it was a stereotype that I held too.

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That was until Autism Spectrum Disorder touched my family’s life.

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Now that I know ASD more personally, I understand that there was only one Rain Man, and that no two children diagnosed with ASD are the same.  In other words, every child diagnosed with autism is truly unique.  In the short time I’ve known ASD, I’ve learned that each child faces his or her own unique set of challenges (some of which might be the same as Rain Man’s, but not all), and each child has his or her own beautiful personality and special talents – just like you and me and everyone else.  If you don’t believe me, you need only to read this blog post about autism stereotypes written by an inspiring young man who blows the autism stereotype out of the water.

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If you don’t know a child with autism, then I realize that ASD might still be a hard thing to wrap your head around.  After all, it’s a mystery sometimes to those who face it every day. It would be amazing if you took some time this month to learn a little more about autism, and to teach your children about it.  (There are lots of great resources, like Autism Speaks and others). Chances are, they already sit in a classroom with a child or two who has ASD, and maybe they have unanswered questions.

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I realize this is a lot to ask, so if you can commit to just one thing to help a child living with ASD, please teach your children to be tolerant of and kind to any child who might appear ‘different’ in some way.

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Those of you who know me in real life may have seen me post this music video on Facebook already, but I thought I’d post it here too, as a reminder that all children have a sparkle, especially those who struggle the hardest.  This re-make of Cyndi Lauper’s 1980s ‘True Colors’ by a group of Canadian artists (Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard, Simple Plan, Fefe Dobson, Lights and others) wasn’t created for the autism cause, but as an anti-bullying initiative. (Note: The net proceeds go to  Kids Help Phone, a counseling service for children and youth.) Still, it speaks to all children who struggle with being ‘different’ from popular expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you’d like your own copy of the ‘true colours / colors’ typographical image above, perhaps to honour/ honor somebody you know with ASD, please feel free to download it below.  Just right click, and save.

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Until next time,

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Kerri

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Canadian Version (Colours)…

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free printable - true colors-autism

 

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US Version (Colors)…

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autism awareness-free printable-true colors-US Version

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Comments

  1. Thanks :) I had no real idea about the depth of autism until last month or the month previous when I started looking for answers for my child’s ‘strange’ behaviors, he raised a few red flags that took me on a google search and found a wealth of information, some very conflicting, some made me second guess, others made me certain. It is very apparent by that; that all children are adversely different whether or not they have a label of anything or not. We are waiting for an appointment for assessment and I’m still back and forth between denial, certainty and total confusion, some days I can be so sure one way or the other but the next day, or even hour I’m thrown back over the fence on it. Waiting sucks but we are just acting as if we are dealing with autism behaviours and trying to avoid certain things to help him through. One last thing- I’m in Australia- which is better to download for me?

    • Oh my I’m tired. Forget that last bit, I thought the ink colours were different for the different places did not even see the spelling first off! *face palm*

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