October is Autism Awareness Month!
Guess what folks? The glorious month of October is here! Previous claims to fame for this month included Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween, but now Autism Awareness can join the party as October is the official Autism Awareness month in Canada!
I bet you’re wondering how Autism Awareness month affects you? To be honest, it doesn’t affect you if you don’t have the mind to learn, the heart to give, and the spirit to make a difference. Although we’ve just met, I have a feeling that you do have what it takes to give October your all.
To get started, get acquainted with autism. I’m sure you have heard about the increasing prevalence of this disorder, but try reading more about autism itself or better yet, register for this free web-based lesson given by an expert from the Training Institute at the Geneva Centre for Autism. In less than two hours, you will find yourself a wiser individual, regardless of how much information you already know. The most important thing to learn here is how supporting a child, an adolescent, or even an adult with autism can be extremely taxing on a family. The distressing toll placed on a family’s finances, mental health, and relationships is difficult to truly comprehend.
BECOME AN ADVOCATE
There are those in our community who cannot speak for themselves. Many individuals with disabilities and disorders fall into this category and they need our voice to shout on their behalf. Parents and guardians are the most important advocates for their children, and often do their best to ensure their child receives the best care; however, in the South Asian Community, where many parents and guardians are learning English as a second, third, or fifth language, it is tough to be an advocate. That is why these families need the support of their community. Interpreters are always helpful when a parent discusses their child with school staff, healthcare workers, and others involved in their child’s life. Accessing and funding services is also a grueling affair. Why not become an advocate in the community? Getting a hold of your MPs and making them aware of the issues at hand is the best ways to do this.
Being the knowledgeable advocate that you now are, there is only one thing left to do: get involved! Volunteering your time to help raise money, to connect parents with resources, or to work with the individuals diagnosed with this life long disorder is a wonderful way to make a difference in the community. We know you’ve got the drive in you to make that difference, so let October be the month you dedicate to Autism. Happy Canadian Autism Awareness month friend!
Hoping our paths will cross soon,
Anji S. Vara
Anji is an MSc recipient from the University of Toronto where she did research on inhibitory control in individuals with ASD. She is a passionate advocate of rights for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and volunteers her time with various special needs and mental health institutions.