World Autism Month During COVID-19

As indicated earlier in the most (see Light It Up Blue 2020), April is World Autism Month. The purpose of World Autism Month is to promote understanding, acceptance, and support for individuals with Autism (Autism Speaks, 2020). In the past, individuals demonstrated their support and involvement in World Autism Month through participation in various educational and fundraising activities. However, due to COVID-19 we are currently required to practice social distancing and many of these activities have been cancelled.

So, how can individuals participate in World Autism Month while still practicing social distancing? To answer this question, I sought help of Natalie Mandel, a BCBA and ABA doctorate student, who assisted in the preparation of this document. She searched for examples of virtual activities and resources that are currently available. Here are just a few examples:

Another way that individuals can show their support, is by educating others about autism. This includes children. According to survey published in 2017, only about 50% of the children included in the survey were familiar with autism.

There are currently children television shows (e.g., Sesame Street) and books (e.g., Ethan’s Story: My Life with Autism, My Brother Charlie) that include characters who have autism to help exposure children to individuals with ASD.  Exposure to the content of these shows and books combined with conversations with caregivers, will help children understand how they are the same and yet different from someone with autism. This knowledge, will help increase understanding.  In additional resource is the Kit for Kids curriculum (Organization for Autism Research, 2020), designed to teach children about Autism. This curriculum is organized per grade level and includes activities such as videos, workbooks, and lesson plans.

This years’ World Autism Month is ending. Nevertheless, our efforts to show support and increase acceptance should continue throughout the entire year because increased awareness can aid in creating a more inclusive environment.