April is Autism Awareness Month. According to the Autism Society , this month is intended to bring concern and awareness about autism to the forefront, while simultaneously celebrating those we know with autism.
Most of us know someone with autism or Asperger’s. It might be one of your siblings, a girl in your class, or that boy down the hall. Most young adults with autism or Asperger’s do not consider themselves to have an illness or anything wrong with them. They just consider their autism or Asperger’s to be a name for their personality — something that makes them unique.
When I asked a girl with Asperger’s at my school what she thought about having Aspberger’s, she replied that there was “nothing wrong with me that needs to be fixed.” To her, having Aspberger’s is a part of who she is. Her Aspberger’s is a part of her personality that she enjoys.
A lot has been said about autism and Asperger’s in the past few years. I don’t want to sound like a total Debbie Downer, but most of it hasn’t been very nice. Some very cruel stereotypes have been propagated about children and young adults and it’s not uncommon for students to use it as a label for anyone socially awkward. How many times have you been behind someone in the dining hall who says “OMG, he was so weird and autistic about kissing me in the morning.”
As college students, it is up to us to transcend beyond those cheap stereotypes, learn more, and stop using the terms as a synonym for people who are socially awkward.
So how can you celebrate Autism Awareness Month?
Reach out to someone in your community who has autism or Asperger’s. Throw an event on your campus to bring awareness to autism and Asperger’s. Find a local autism awareness organization in your community and see what else you can do!
As a college student, you have a millions way to get involved, either by volunteering or bringing awareness, so go for it! As well, by being a friend to someone with autism and Asperger’s, you can make even more of a difference.
So this April, when you’re celebrating spring and the approaching summer, take a little bit of time to educate yourself about autism and Asperger’s.