So it’s April and you’re curious about what activities might help someone connect with Autism Awareness. Well first off, know that you’re not alone!
Autism Awareness is a worthy cause, but there are many that don’t quite get it. This is likely because they don’t have a significant relationship with an autistic person. But you might just be the one in the best position to make them autism aware!
April is when we focus on increasing awareness about the developmental disability that impacts many. But more than awareness, we also get to hear the stories firsthand from those who face autism head-on. But many don’t get to hear these powerful stories.
Awareness is crucial because people often misunderstand those with autism. And that foundational misunderstanding is what leads to many problematic interactions.
So during the month, people come together to help others understand more about autism. And one way for this to work is with fun and helpful autism awareness activities.
Here are some great ideas for people of all ages to gain spread more awareness about autism.
#1 – Sensory Overload Experience
It’s often difficult to understand another person from a different background. So imagine the added layer of complexity in understanding a person who also has autism.
So the sensory overload experience is about bringing people into the world of autism. It re-creates how the autistic person experiences many everyday occurrences.
Sensory overload videos and virtual reality simulations have a lasting impact on adults. Videos like these depict how people with autism experience life. The participant gets to experience firsthand the intensity of sensory experiences around them.
Autism awareness activities like these increase one’s education and foster empathy. In just a few minutes, a person can better understand what autistic persons experience on a daily basis.
And it’s this kind of experience that reduces the gap created by misunderstanding. Beyond that, it provides an opportunity to connect with people who have autism.
#2 – Picture Books about Autism
Early education about autism is a must, especially for our children. Our children need to learn that the world is filled with many different types of people. And each person has a unique place in this world.
So the earlier you can create autism awareness, the better. And this not only applies to classroom settings. We strongly encourage parents to continue autism education outside of the classroom as well.
When teaching children about autism, it’s important to find age-appropriate activities. And for young children, picture books are a great way to introduce autism awareness!
So we recommend that autism picture books and storybooks suited for kids be a part of your library. These along with free printable resources available online are great resources.
The following books are great for increasing awareness for kids in elementary school:
- Mary Thompson’s Andy and His Yellow Frisbee
- Ellen Sabin’s The Autism Acceptance Book
- Abby Ward Messner’s Captain Tommy
Some books are more interesting for students in middle school, including:
- Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother
- Kathy Hoopman’s Lisa and the Lace Maker
- Nancy Ogaz’s Wishing on the Midnight Star
#3 – Design and Wear Blue T-Shirts
People connect with clothing and how they are used to advertise meaningful messages. They are great conversation starters, especially if you have a powerful image.
So why not get creative and design an autism awareness t-shirt? People love images, so creating t-shirts is a great interactive activity for children and adults.
You can start by educating your child about autism.
Have them to help make a design that illustrates what they’ve learned.
Proudly wear your shirt or ribbon an explain to others what it means.
Personalize it so that it communicates clearly what autism means to you.
Just be sure to use lots of blue as that’s the color we use to celebrate autism awareness. Know that doing this helps your child develop understanding and empathy for those with autism. In the process, your child might also find that they have lots more in common ground than once thought.
#4 – Promote No-Bullying Campaigns
It’s no secret that children on the autism spectrum are often targeted and bullied. And both adults and children can fight against this. You can help by starting or supporting no-bullying campaigns at local schools.
Students sign a pledge as a part of the campaign. The pledge is to help prevent bullying that targets children with autism. This creates a safe place for all children where everyone is supportive of one another.
In some schools, there are opportunities to help autistic students with classwork. Other opportunities might include being a lunch-buddy to an autistic school-mate.
The point here is that you are sending a clear message to others by virtue of your actions. You can make a difference and you can help those who are vulnerable. And yes, you can help others to gain greater awareness about autism.
#5 – Organize/Support an Autism Awareness Parade
And what about a fun activity that involves community support? Well, an autism awareness parade for schools might just be the answer!
Each class could create a banner to display what they’ve learned about autism. And teachers can get donations from local businesses willing to support the effort.
The students can march around the campus while displaying their banners. After the parade, teachers and parents can organize a small fair at the local park for kids to enjoy games and food.
Or if planning an execution are weak areas, you can always join a parade in your area.
These are just a few ideas of activities you can use to draw attention to autism awareness. Be persistent. Make it fun. Surround yourself with people who are motivated and like-minded. And remember that by doing your part, you’re helping to create a better world for us all!
A.D. Daisley holds a Masters Degree from the University of Central Florida and has been working in the field as a Behavior Analyst since 2005. He has provided services to children and adults with varying diagnoses such as autism, mental retardation, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). His scope of experience also includes coordinating therapy to individuals and families in conjunction with other supports including School Teachers, Adult Day Training Facility Staff (ADT’s) and Speech/Occupational therapists. He is the Director and Behavior Analyst at Alternative Outcomes since 2007. A.D is also the Director of Creátre, a non-profit organization that uses the arts for the purpose of skill training, outreach and to display community leadership.