Today, 1 in 100 people have autism — that accounts for nearly 75 million people. When faced with a number like that, it can seem impossible to make a real difference in the lives of people with autism. But the good news is, it only takes touching the life of one person to make a substantial difference.
Today might mark the official Make a Difference Day, but with these tips, you can make a difference in someone’s life every day of the year.
1. Learn the right terminology.
Terminology is more important than people think. People with autism are so much more than their condition. They’re students, children, artists, and teachers who also happen to have autism.
2. Don’t group all people with autism together.
While people with autism share similar traits, be careful not to make gross generalizations. People with autism are first and foremost individuals with their own likes and dislikes.
3. They belong in the general population.
Especially when they’re younger, society has a tendency to segregate people with autism. While it’s sometimes good to provide certain classes and services to just people with autism, it’s important that they’re also encouraged to attend public school and get to know people without autism.
4. It’s important to plan for their future.
In 2013, Alexis Wineman (Miss Montana) became the first Miss America contestant with autism. Daryl Hannah, Tim Burton, and Susan Boyle are just a few other people who have gone on to have flourishing acting, directing, and singing careers. If your loved one is passionate about something, you should encourage them to pursue it.
5. Allow them to contribute to society.
Despite being very logical, independent thinkers, people with autism tend to be either unemployed or underemployed. In reality, most of them want to contribute to society and make excellent employees — sounds like a win, win!
6. Set them up for success well into adulthood.
Adults are all too often left out of the autism conversation. School and federally funded services tend to end when people reach age 18, whether or not they’re still needed. Additional coaching services can make a huge difference in the life of someone with autism and put them on the right path to success.