15 Great Ways To Spread Autism Awareness

By Sarah Fader

Updated December 17, 2018

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder, is characterized by a wide range of symptoms. Some of the main traits of autism include:

  • Challenges with social skills
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Difficulties with speech and nonverbal communication
  • Other unique strengths and differences

What many people don't know is that everyone with autism is different. No two autistic people behave the same way. There are varying degrees of severity when it comes to autism, and some people are considered high functioning. The diagnosis varies from person to person, and the reason that it's called autism spectrum disorder is that some individuals have more severe symptoms than others.

Source: pixabay.com

Some people have what is called "high functioning autism," for example, and can lead healthy lives, work, get married, and choose to have kids. On the opposite end of the spectrum, people with severe or low functioning autism often require daily support and supervision.

If you have autism or know someone on the spectrum, you understand that sometimes it can be hard to live with autism when people don't get it. Some individuals fear autistic people because they have limited experience with neurodiversity or people whose brains work differently from theirs. Due to their lack of awareness about autism, they may speak ignorantly about it or make generalizations concerning autistic individuals. It's crucial that we educate our society on autism, and treat every individual, regardless of who they are, with compassion and respect.

In some situations, individuals and families affected by autism may find support by talking with a professional, either in-person or via an online counseling service like BetterHelp.

Here are 15 great ways that you can help spread autism awareness:

  1. Learn About Autism

To spread autism awareness start by learning about the topic. Read about autism from reliable professional sources, and people with first-hand experience on the condition.

An excellent place to start is the National Human Genome Research Institute website. They have helpful answers to these questions about autism, along with a list of additional resources at the end:

  • What is autism?
  • What are the symptoms of autism?
  • How is autism diagnosed?
  • What is the treatment of autism?
  • Is autism inherited?

If you're interested in learning more, many books have been written about autism from different perspectives. A couple of these are Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm and The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeedby Temple Grandin.

  1. Get Involved

There are many people out there who are doing good work spreading the word about autism, but it still isn't enough. If you're passionate about spreading autism awareness it's very important that you not only learn for yourself and talk about the problem - you should get involved too!

There are big and small ways that you can get involved - just know that getting out there and doing something about the problem is the best way to start making the world a better place for autistic people and their families.

Find events, programs, and services for autistic people in your hometown. If can't locate any autism awareness events or organizations in your area, it's time to act and create an event! Not sure where to start? The Autism Society "has a network of over 100 affiliates in almost every state, many of which sponsor their own group meetings, programs, and events. Contact your local affiliate to get involved and find an event or meeting near you, or start your own event."

Their website lists ways that you can get involved, like signing up for their newsletter or attending one of AMC Theaters Sensory Friendly Films.

Source: aviano.af.mil

  1. Attend Events

Learn about autism and make it your mission to spread the word, and then take it a step further. Get involved. One great way to get more involved in the autism community is by going to events.

Events, whether they're fundraisers, conferences (like the 50th Annual Autism Society National Conference happening July 10-12, 2018 in Washington, DC), or Autism Meetups, are an excellent way to put your research into action, network, and learn even more about autism.

Are you up for a challenge? Try taking someone new to every autism event you attend. This way, you're not only growing yourself, but you're also helping someone else learn more about autism (which supports the world become a better place)!

  1. Use Social Media

Social media is a great tool that can be used to reach millions of people from all around the world. Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter can help you build a following if you're looking to share your story with autism.

These platforms can also help you spread awareness, garner interest in an event you're hosting, or start a positive conversation with people on the autism spectrum. A couple of examples of using social media to spread autism awareness are groups like Autism Mothers and Autism Support Network that give people affected by autism a place to find support and understanding.

Unfortunately, not everything about social media is good. For one, some people believe that it leads to a type of 'slacktivism,' where individuals share a post or sign an online petition and feel like they have done a lot to help the cause when really there is so much more to be done, and that action was very small.

Also, social media can be used to spread stereotypes and misconceptions about autism, which is why it is important to consider the value of the content you find online before you share.

  1. Participate in Programs

Social media has its flaws. Some people believe that it leads to a type of 'slacktivism,' where individuals share a post or sign an online petition and feel like they have done a lot to help the cause when there is so much more to accomplish. Their action helps, but it's just the beginning of impacting autism awareness.

Also, social media can be used to spread stereotypes and misconceptions about autism, which is why it is essential to consider the value of the content you find online before you share.

Participate in Programs

If you or a family member has autism, you probably already know that there are several programs in your local community where you can get involved.

Programs for people with autism are offered through schools, hospitals, and community organizations. They include things like:

  • Social skills and life skills groups
  • Transition to high school or adulthood programs
  • Supported independent living programs
  • Vocational (work) support programs
  • Social and recreational programs

These programs generally are designed to help autistic individuals connect with people. Typically, they provide not only social support but also help with some of the challenges and transitions that people on the spectrum face as children, teens, and adults.

  1. Spend Time with People on the Spectrum

Social media has its flaws. Some people believe that it leads to a type of 'slacktivism,' where individuals share a post or sign an online petition and feel like they have done a lot to help the cause when there is so much more to accomplish. Their action helps, but it's just the beginning of impacting autism awareness.

There are many impactful stories about autism are the ones where a non-autistic person shares how someone with autism changed their life. A lot of times people don't know very much about autism but are pleasantly surprised when they meet someone on the spectrum and start to get to know them a little better.

No matter how much you read and study, you're never entirely going to understand autism unless you interact with people who live it. That's when you see how unique and strong people with autism are.

  1. Donate

It's possible that you're interested in autism but aren't autistic and don't know anyone on the spectrum. If this is the situation you're in, and you want to help, you might not know where to begin. If you aren't sure how to spread awareness yourself, you can always donate to an organization that does instead.

  1. Volunteer

If you aren't already involved in the autism community and can't afford to donate, another way to help and spread awareness is by volunteering your time. After you've learned a little bit about autism, you might feel like you're ready to take this next step.

As we've already mentioned, there are plenty of fundraisers, conferences, programs, and events being held to help people with autism and spread awareness. Look at the events taking place in your area in the next few months and see if any of them are looking for volunteers!

Source: flickr.com

  1. Celebrate National Autism Awareness Month

The activities you do to spread awareness may get some extra momentum during April, which is National Autism Awareness Month.According to the Autism Society website, National Autism Awareness Month is celebrated with Presidential/Congressional declarations, online events and activities, local events and activities through affiliates, and partnership opportunities.

The Autism Society also encourages people to wear the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon during this time, since it's "the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world." The autism awareness puzzle piece symbolizes the complexity of the autism spectrum, something that many people aren't aware of at first.Remember, raising autism awareness happens all year with your help, not only in April!

  1. Share Your Story

If you or someone you know is on the autism spectrum, one important thing you can do to spread awareness is shared your story. By sharing your story, you're adding to the positive dialogue about autism. You're giving people one more real-life example of what it's really like to be autistic or know someone with autism.

There are many ways that you can share your story. You can: blog about it, post on social media, start a vlog or write a book. You can also share your story with The Autism Society by submitting approximately 300 words along with a picture to stories@autism-society.org.

  1. Don't Spread Stereotypes and Misconceptions

It was mentioned briefly in our point about using social media to spread awareness, but it's important enough that it deserves its spot on this list. Remember that when spreading autism awareness, your goal is not only spreading awareness but making sure that the information you are sharing is true and accurate.

Spreading stereotypes and misinformation about autism are NOT spreading autism awareness. If you're unsure about something, look it up. Be careful about spreading viral videos that might give people the wrong impression about autism.

There are many helpful resources online where you can look if you aren't sure about something. For example, PBS has a page on their website that's all about Autism Myths and Misconceptions.

  1. Promote Ability, Not Disability

People who know a little about autism are aware of the stereotypical symptoms, like language difficulties and repetitive behaviors. Many people are not aware that some people with autism can live relatively healthy lives, or that autistic individuals have many strengths that other people don't have.

When you're spreading autism awareness, remember to share the good things as well as the bad. Promote the achievements and abilities of people with autism instead of only focusing on what people on the spectrum struggle with or can't do.

  1. Wear Blue on World Autism Awareness Day

We mentioned National Autism Awareness Month, but you may be wondering, "When is autism awareness day?"

World Autism Awareness Day is on April 2nd, and another excellent way to spread autism awareness is by wearing blue on that day. Wear a blue t-shirt you already have or buy autism awareness merchandise to show your support this year and start a conversation.

  1. Support Autism-Friendly Businesses

Some businesses go the extra mile to make sure people on the spectrum feel safe, welcome and included. Organizations like the Autism Treatment Network have even gone the extra mile to support businesses who show an interest in helping people with autism by providing free training and marketing materials to help families with autism connect with these businesses.

Another great example of autism-friendly businesses is when larger retailers like Toys-R-Us and Target offer 'sensory-friendly shopping days' in some countries during the holidays when busy stores and malls can be overwhelming to individuals with autism.

Source: yokota.af.mil

  1. Do It with Confidence

Our final tip for spreading autism awareness is to do it with confidence. People will listen and learn more if you're open and happy to share your experiences instead of hesitant and unsure of yourself.

Know that you might be met with some ignorance and resistance along the way, but don't let that dampen your spirit. Even if you don't completely change someone's opinion of autism in one day, you could be the person who makes them start to think twice before judging someone on the spectrum.

Who knows, something you say might even spark an interest in learning more or getting involved themselves.

Conclusion

If you or someone you know is on the autism spectrum, and you're passionate about helping people with autism, there are numerous ways that you can spread awareness, from wearing your autism awareness shirts and autism awareness ribbons to volunteering or organizing events.

Remember is that while sharing posts online can be helpful; you should make sure that the information you are spreading is true and accurate. Also, don't forget that taking action and getting involved in your local autism community is the most effective way to make a difference and encourage change. If you're on the autism spectrum, and you're finding it difficult to cope with your condition, you can seek therapy. Online counselors are knowledgeable about autism and can help you practice skills that will help people better understand you. You'll learn to communicate your needs best to others and live an excellent quality of life.


Previous Article

How Theory Of Mind Applies To Autism

Next Article

What Is High Functioning Autism?
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Counselor Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.