Autism Awareness month is approaching (April) and I wanted to take the time to share this blog with everyone to raise awareness.
Every year on April 2nd many organizations get together and celebrate this day with unique fundraisers to raise money and awareness for autism. I am one of them.
What is autism? Autism is a spectrum disorder that ranges from challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication as well as other unique differences. Autism is not one aspect in particular; this is a spectrum disorder meaning people with autism have varying different challenges.
Let me tell you my story:
I had the privilege of meeting a little boy with autism when I became an elementary school teacher, his name is Brody, and he changed my life. There are often many misconceptions regarding children and autism. Many people think they are standoffish and aloof. I will be the first to say that is NOT the case.
Needless to say, this blog post is dedicated to Brody. As I mentioned earlier Brody has changed my life. I was one of those people that didn’t know about autism and often carried those misconceptions like many others do. Then I met this incredible, caring, kind, adventurous, and exciting kid that had a love for life like no one I’ve ever met. He has shown me what real and true happiness looks and feels like.
Over the course of the year I had him in class he taught me the important things in life. He has reminded me of what is important and encouraged me to stop and take the time to enjoy the small things. Brody has helped me learn to enjoy every moment and never to forget to laugh. He has altered my educational and photography career from this point forward.
I have since become very active in the autism community and have changed the way I run my classroom. Every year now I donate my time doing photos for children with autism. I want to make sure everyone is comfortable with the experience. Many parents of children with autism struggle with the thought of getting professional photos taken because this is a break in the schedule and it can be quite stressful for everyone involved. My goal is to make sure that everyone has a great time and there isn’t a worry of paying money if things don’t go as planned. I started doing this for the month of April and have since waived my session fee for families with autism at any point in the year. I owe the way I have changed my business to one smart AMAZING kid, Brody.
Signs and symptoms: obvious signs begin around the age of 2-3 years old but sometimes can be diagnosed earlier particularly with developmental delays.
- Avoiding eye contact and wanting to be alone
- Trouble understanding peoples feelings or talking about their own feelings.
- Prefer not to be held or cuddled, or cuddle only when they want to.
- Repeat or echo words or phrases
- Repeating actions
- Lose skills they once had
- Not play pretend games
- May have unusual reactions to how things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
These are a few symptoms from the CDC
Causes and Treatment: There is no cure for autism.
Who is affected: Autism is more common in boys than girls (4.5 times more)
Autism is very real and many of these kids’ struggles making friends and having relationships many of us have, all because they are different and unique. There are students just like Brody that do not get the support they need. Please remember to take a second and educate yourselves. You will find that kids and adults with autism are amazing and they will teach you more about life than you can teach them. I know Brody did.
Do you have a child with autism and need a support group? Check out the Quirky Moms on Facebook. This is a group of amazing people that share their stories and help support one another as well as celebrate the success’; this is the group you want to help you through your adventure being a parent with a child with autism.
Let’s raise awareness #LightItUPBlue
Join me at the autism walk; I will be there taking photos!
Owl My Love,