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Did you know that the prevalence of autism has increased drastically over the past decade? from 1 in 125 children in 2020 to 1 in 54 in 2020. April once was known as National Autism Awareness Month but is now being transformed to Autism Acceptance Month to help increase the awareness of signs and symptoms.

Autism is a complex, cognitive disorder that impacts a person’s social skills, communication, relationships and self-regulation. It can be present from 18 months of age but can also form early on in a child’s life (usually within the first three years.)

Autism is a broad spectrum disorder, which means no two people will show an exact set of symptoms, but early signs have been identified, including:

  • Speaking later than typical or not at all
  • Atypical nonverbal communication such as avoiding eye contact, giving only a few facial expressions or having a monotone
  • A preference of solitary play rather than cooperative play with other children
  • Adverse to sudden changes in their environment
  • A strong, perpetual interest on a specific topic, part of a toy or item

At this time, there is no individual cause for this lifelong disability, but early detection can help a person receive necessary support and services. You can learn more about development milestones by visiting the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early” site.

Because ASD has become much more common, it is likely that you know someone who is impacted by the disability. Fortunately, with more occurrences comes more opportunities to serve. Today, there are thousands of resources available to help families manage autism. In 2019, the Wisconsin Lions Camp rolled out a new program for children with autism. Campers have an opportunity for a comprehensive program designed to help a child in the development of self-confidence, interdependence, social skills, outdoor recreational skills and environmental awareness. With the generous support of donors, summer camp participation is free of charge. A gift to Lions Pride, designated to Lions Camp will have a lasting impact on future generations of children.

As we enter the month of April, we encourage you to learn more about Autism because the more knowledge we have, the more we can pass on to others and start productive conversations. Together, we can help create a more caring and supportive environment for people with autism.