April is Autism Acceptance Month – a month set aside to increasing awareness of the unique challenges of those on the autism spectrum, and to reduce the stigma they face trying to lead whole and fulfilling lives.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and learn or pay attention differently. Some have high levels of conversation skills, while others are nonverbal. Some with ASD are fully capable of living independently, and some require assistance throughout their lives.

Other facts about ASD*:

  • 1 in 36 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with ASD.
  • All ethnic and socioeconomic groups are affected, but minorities tend to be diagnosed later and less often.
  • ADHD, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia can occur alongside ASD. Often, the percentage of people with one of these mental illnesses is higher among those with ASD than with the neurotypical population.
  • Over the next decade, an estimated 700,000 – 1,000,000 teenagers with ASD will enter adulthood and age out of school-based services.
  • Young adults with autism are less likely to receive timely medical care, employment, higher education, or transition support.

How can you get involved?

Reach out to non-profit groups in your community specifically focused on improving the lives of those with ASD, including Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of North Carolina. Learn how you can volunteer time or resources to helping these groups make the lives of those with ASD easier and more fulfilling.

*Sources: autismspeaks.org, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html