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April is Autism Awareness Month: How you can help make a difference

WAFF's Kellie Miller reporting
Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 11:54 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 1, 2022 at 12:01 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - April is Autism Awareness Month, an opportunity to get involved and make an impact in your community.

“It gives us the chance to talk about ways that we can accept those in our community with autism and ways that we can promote awareness to those impacted by autism,” said Jenny Morris, development coordinator of the Autism Society of Alabama.

There are many ways organizations, businesses and community members can make a difference this month and in the future. For example, Morris said the autistic community needs more employment opportunities. Her team is calling on businesses to do some outreach and help train individuals who have autism.

“It’s an area that has been overlooked,” Morris said. “Everybody needs training and these folks are no different. There are so many areas we can employ these folks and teach them.”

The Autism Society of Alabama is currently hosting the Every Step Matters Autism Walk. Although the fundraiser is taking place virtually this year, Morris encourages community members to sign-up.

“A lot of people in our community have decided that they are still not ready for in-person events, so we wanted to respond to that,” Morris said. “But we want people out there walking and we are now using the hashtag yourwalkyourway. Go to our website, register for the walk, get out there and send us your pictures!

You can register for or donate to the Every Step Matters Autism Walk through the month of April here: www.walkforautismal.com

Your donations help fund many programs and tools that impact families in Alabama. For example, the Autism Society has been buying Carter Kits for first responders. The sensory kits include a variety of items such as sunglasses, noise-reducing headphones, and sensory toys. First responders can use these tools to help comfort distressed children in emergencies.

“We have had great response from firefighters and first responders that we have given them to,” Morris said. “They have been so grateful.”

The Autism Society of Alabama offers an array of other programs and experiences. Morris said the family camp was a game changer for her son who has autism.

“My son has definitely benefited from the family camps,” Morris said. “We have gone several years and it’s in a wonderful place on Lake Martin and it’s called Camp ASCCA. He now goes every summer independently. But we would not have known about it and he would not have had that opportunity had it not been for the autism society.”

Hundreds of families have benefited from the family camp on Lake Martin. Morris said it’s a great weekend experience for families across Alabama who get to participate in adaptive camp activities, without worrying about any expenses.

You can visit the Autism Society of Alabama’s website for a full list of programs.

Saturday, April 2 is World Autism Day so don’t forget to wear blue! Morris hopes we can highlight and honor people who have autism in communities nationwide. She also reminds people to be patient, tolerant, and kind to those around you.

“I just want people to know to be aware of their surroundings,” Morris said. “Aware of the people that are around them every day. When you are walking through the library, when you are walking through the store, when you are in a restaurant. We are surrounded by autism every day.”

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