Autism Awareness Month

Anya Yang, Staff Writer

World Autism Day is Monday, April 2, 2018, which marks the beginning of an entire month dedicated to spreading awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Every year during the month of April, individuals and organizations across the world commemorate Autism Awareness Month with events to raise public awareness about autism. The first National Autism Awareness month was in April 1970.

AHS’ role in Autism Awareness Month has only gotten bigger throughout the years. According to sophomore Lawrence Sung, co-founder of the Peer Mentors club, awareness was spread through annual t-shirt sales. “However, exposure was limited, so a good 95% of Apaches never heard about the awareness effort going on in their school,” he explained.

This changed when Ms. Huffman, the speech therapist, launched an idea about creating an organization dedicated to helping students with autism integrate with others at school. She and Lawrence decided that this was much-needed, as insults and degradations revolving around those afflicted with autism were becoming more and more casual.

This organization is now known as the Peer Mentors club, where students act as ‘mentors’ of fellow peers with autism. At the beginning of the school year, AP Psychology students, people with autism-afflicted loved ones, SMW, and Link Crew members were recruited and assigned a student to mentor in the second semester. Lawrence explained that, “most mentor-mentee pairs meet Wednesday at lunch at the Media Center, but some meet other days of the week in varying locations, all under Ms. Huffman’s supervision.”

In honor of April being National Autism Awareness Month, the club is fundraising by selling pins! They plan on doing other outreach and recruitment events to promote awareness.

Originally, April 2 was designated as National Autism Awareness Day, to take measures to spread knowledge about people with ASD throughout the world. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly, and National Autism Awareness Day was passed in council in November 2007 and officially adopted on Dec. 18, 2007.

Later, Autism Society, the nation’s leading autism organization, launched the observance month to “promote autism awareness, inclusion, and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with ASD is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.”

To show support for the month of April and what it stands for, students sold T-shirts and pins for extra recognition. To learn more about how you can get involved, you can visit websites for organizations like Autism Society or Autism Speaks.