APRIL is Autism Awareness Month and last Monday, World Autism Awareness Day was celebrated with the aim of placing the spotlight on the obstacles people living with autism and caregivers of autistic individuals face daily.
It is important that throughout this month, we gain better understanding of autism so that we can truly create an inclusive society for children and adults with the spectrum disorder.
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder characterised by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviour. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's life.
These signs often develop gradually, though some children with autism reach their developmental milestones at a normal pace and then regress. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent in early childhood, typically before age three.
Locally, through the Jamaica Autism Support Association (JASA), some goals include raising awareness; conducting research on the prevalence of autism in Jamaica; and advocacy for action.
Remember, as we celebrate the unique talents of those with autism, it is important that we arm ourselves with the requisite knowledge and treat these individuals with equal respect.