Montgomery, Ala. – Join the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) as we celebrate World Autism Day on April 2, followed by Autism Awareness Month. Throughout the month, ADMH and partners will share messages and personal stories of awareness, acceptance, and inclusivity.
We invite you to share in Autism Speaks’ Kindness Campaign, which encourages acceptance and understanding with daily acts of kindness at your school, work, or in your community. Together, we can create a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential.
Many have heard of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but far too few know what it’s like to have autism – and experience both the strengths and challenges. According to Autism Speaks, ASD refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. The Centers for Disease Control state autism affects an estimated one in 54 children in the United States.
Signs of autism usually appear by age two or three. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Over the years, the number of individuals diagnosed with ASD has increased, but research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.
The ADMH Office of Autism Services values the uniqueness of all individuals and strives to provide comprehensive supports, serving hundreds of children and youth and their families, throughout all regions of the state. To learn more about the office and services offered, please visit https://mh.alabama.gov/autism-services/.
ADMH leads the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council (AIACC) which was created to meet the urgent and substantial need to develop and implement a statewide comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system of care for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families.
The Regional Autism Network (RAN) is supported by the AIACC and consists of five universities which serve as hubs for professional training programs, technical assistance and consultation services, direct assistance, and public education programs. The RAN is staffed by experts in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The RAN networks are housed at Auburn University, University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama in Huntsville, and University of South Alabama. Each Regional Autism Network strives to connect people with ASD, their families, educators, and service providers to the information and/or services that best meet their needs.
Many events take place in the month of April to celebrate individuals with ASD, their families and professionals who work in the field. For example, Alabamians will take part in the virtual or community Every Step Matters Walk for Autism in support of the one in 44 individuals affected by autism. Registration is open at www.walkforautismAL.com. Your walk team can be as simple as you registering for a relaxing walk alone in a local park or as involved as a team of 20 from your office wearing super hero costumes.
Since the walk began, the Autism Society of Alabama has raised funds to support communities across the state. Proceeds from the walk provide meaningful programs such as sensory bags for first responders, family camps, and many more programs. Individuals on the spectrum and their families have benefited from the generosity of our many donors and supporters. To learn more about the Autism Society of Alabama, you can visit their website at www.autism-alabama.org.