Spreading awareness for self-advocacy for people with autism and for individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds living with autism.
April 2 was World Autism Awareness Day. A day when people from around the world took part in spreading awareness about autism and showing support for those living with autism. But the support doesn't stop on that one day. The whole month of April is recognized around the world as Autism Awareness Month. All month long organizations and people share information, stories, and hold events to continue to educate others about autism, to foster support for individuals living with autism and their families, and to help raise money for autism research related initiatives.
Autism, also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disability characterized by persistent differences in communication development and social skills accompanied with restrictive and repetitive behaviors, patterns, interests, and activities (1). Some of the communication challenges seen in children with ASD include: difficulty understanding what others say, repetitive language patterns, difficulties understanding nonverbal communication, and delayed speech development The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated in 2016 that 1 in 54 children were diagnosed with autism.
Autism awareness month was first started in 1970 by The Autism Society to increase public awareness about autism and the day-to-day issues faced by individuals with autism, their families and the professionals who work with them. Since then many more organizations around the world have been created to join those efforts.
In this post I wanted to do my part to spread awareness and highlight some organizations that are working to support autism awareness. These organizations are dedicated to helping families, and communities gain proper education, training, treatment, and support for individuals living with autism from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. While there are many organizations around who are dedicated to helping people from all walks of life, a lot of times families from different cultures and underserved communities are seeking education and support that is sensitive to their communication barriers and cultural values. As well as increased access to education, proper diagnosis, and support.
1. The Global Autism Project was founded in 2003. They are involved in providing training services for staff and families who work with people in their communities living with autism from underserved countries around the world.
2. Grupo-Salto was founded in 2003 by Latino parents of children with autism and Hispanic program staff from The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Developmental Disabilities Family Clinics (DDFC). Their goal is to provide support for Latino families that have children with ASD by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate training, education and services.
3. The color of Autism is a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 working to educate and support African American children diagnosed with Autism and their families. They aim to help families with early identification and diagnosis of autism to provide them with information to advocate for services for their children.
4. The National African American Autism Community Network (NAAACN) is a nationwide coalition of organizations who support and educate African American families affected by autism. They advocate on behalf of underserved African American communities for increase awareness, screening, and access to early intervention and treatment for members of their communities with autism.
5. Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 by individuals living with Autism. Members include individuals with autism, cross-disability advocates, family members and friends, of individuals with autism, professionals, and educators who work to make sure the voices of individuals with autism are heard and included at all levels of dialogue related to autism advocacy.
6. International Autism Organizations is a page listed on the Autism Speaks website that provides a lengthy list of autism organizations in different countries around the world.
7. The Indian Health Service (IHS) is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that provides culturally appropriate health services and to increase access to accurate Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis to American Indians and Alaska Natives. The IHS division of Behavioral Health Indian Children’s Program (ICP) provides education, training, and consultation on issues affecting American Indian/Alaska native youth via IHS's Tele behavioral Health Center of Excellence (TBHCE).
8. Open Door for multicultural families
This nonprofit organization was founded in June 2009 by a group of parents of family members with intellectual disabilities, professionals, and community members to provide culturally and linguistically relevant information, services, and programming to families with family members with developmental intellectual disabilities and special health care needs. Their bilingual/bicultural family support specialist come from the same cultures and speak the same language as the families they serve. They currently provide services in English, Spanish, African (Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, Somali), Asian (Cambodian, Chinese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese, Laotian, Vietnamese, Tamil, Hindi), European (French, German, Italian), Eurasian (Russian, Ukrainian), and Middle Eastern (Arabic, Kurdish). On their resources page they have information about Autism in 15 different languages.
This list is just a few of the organizations out here making a difference. There are plenty more promoting acceptance and igniting change for the autism community! Throughout this month I will share with you some of my personal experiences working with kids with autism and some of the strategies that I seen be effective time and time again to support speech and language development. Stay tuned!
1. The Autism Society-What is Autism; https://www.autism-society.org/what-is/
Disclaimer: These websites found through personal internet search. The content on these sites are not sponsored by Decode It, nor do they represent the view of Decode It. This list is to share resources that are available. I can not assume any responsibility for the content on the sites in this article.
Kynisha Cloud, M.S. CCC-SLP