Every year, the month of April is celebrated as National Autism Awareness Month. This is the month to sport the color blue and spread the love and equality.
According to Autism Speaks, one in 59 children are diagnosed with Autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a term that refers to a large range of developmental disorders affecting speech, learning and social development.
No two Autism cases are exactly alike. The only thing exactly the same is the fact that they are on the spectrum. Autism can come up in different ways for different people.
One child may have issues with their learning and speech while another may have issues with their attention and fine motor skills. However, for some children living with Autism, it can be so much more than that.
Having an Autism Spectrum Disorder can bring along other medical conditions including anxiety, depression, epilepsy, disrupted sleep, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder and even schizophrenia.
Duncan Gothie and Andy Milsten, two Central York students who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders adjust daily to life with Autism. Gothie said, “Central is good at adjusting to everyone’s needs.”
Central has been especially cooperative with children who live with these disorders. Gothie for example has had adjustments made to make him more comfortable in school.
With this support, he is allowed to build his schedule with the help of the school counselors to take away the stresses of arena scheduling.
School can be a tough place to be when living with a spectrum disorder. Some need a support class while receive special accommodations from the school to allow them to make flexible adjustments to their personal environment.
Being in a school environment can be especially challenging for children experiencing bullying. Whether they are high or low on the spectrum, bullying is an issue that can occur. One of the largest issues being the “r-word.”
The Special Olympics started the “R-word Campaign” also known as “Spread The Word To End The Word.” This campaign spreads the idea of not using this word. An alternative to saying “mentally retarded” could be “person with a disability.” The United States government has even ended the use of “mental retardation” in medical documents.
Recently, the Special Olympics have started a new track in their campaign, “Spread The Word Inclusion.” This new chapter spreads the idea of including all people and making sure everyone feels welcome.
Central York has embraced this idea through Unified Track and the recent start of the Youth Activation Committee. You can support both of these activities by going to the Unified Track meets coming up.
The first meet is at Dallastown on Thursday, Apr. 25. The second meet is at home on Friday, May 3. The last meet is at York Tech on Friday, May 10.
It is not always easy to see when a person has a spectrum disorder.
Gothie said, “The biggest fiction is that you can point out someone in a crowd and see that the kid has autism.”
There are no distinct features or things that separate these people from the rest of us. While some may have speech issues or “repetitive movements,” they are not able to be automatically pointed out.
Milsten said, “With Autism, it just takes some kids longer to develop. It’s like a computer. Their wires are a little crossed and they need to learn a little bit differently.” Later adding, “I’m not in a regular class with all of these regular kids. I’m in a class with other kids who are still smart and still know a lot of things, but they have some learning disabilities.”
Universally, we are all the same in some way, shape or form. Just because someone has a disability does not mean they should be taken away from everyone else’s day-to-day activities. Please be sure to include everybody. The future is inclusion.