When an autism diagnosis is received by parents for their child, it can seem like an initially intimidating and isolating experience. However, given recent advocacy and awareness efforts, it more accurately means becoming part of a new community. The bond of a common experience with other parents, along with a desire for spreading this understanding to the general public, creates a supportive community with plenty of opportunities to get active and give back.
Probably the simplest way to get involved is to attend an event or support group. Many organizations, such as the Autism Society, have local affiliates that host meetings and large events that provide education, promote awareness, and advocate for best practices to state organizations. The mere act of adding to the number of people in one place with the same interests is a significant step.
There are plenty of autism-friendly events around the nation that are organized. You can find a local event to help out with, or perhaps you can even create your own event. AMC Sensory Friendly Films is an example of such an event. Lights are kept on, the volume is turned down, personal snacks are welcome, and restrictions on talking are loosened.
The Special Olympics provide another great opportunity to get involved. The games have plenty of local events every year and are always in need of volunteers to help make things happen. If there is no way for you to attend an event or help out, a simple donation shows a great deal of support.
One of the most powerful ways to support the autism community is with your vote. Brush up on your knowledge of local proposals you can vote for that can create public policy supporting families affected by autism. Outside of election season, you can always contact your local, or federal, policy makers to advocate for better medical, educational, and societal opportunities for your child with autism and others.
When it comes to supporting your new community, don’t discount the everyday opportunities to be a positive voice. Whether it’s a casual conversation you strike up with a stranger, an article you post on social media, or a phone call you make to a fellow parent of an autistic child, each effort to give back matters.
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