Autism Parenting Magazine Issue 74 (Member's Dashboard) - Page 9

AUTISM ADVOCACY people with autism will lead full lives able to inter- act with the world on their own terms.” People often display the ribbon in hopes of spark- ing conversation about how autism affects them or loved ones. Many people are happy to answer ques- tions about autism and help people gain better un- derstandings of what it is like to live with ASD. Autism Awareness Merchandise We buy gifts for family and friends throughout the year: birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and more. Why not use this additional holiday opportu- nity to purchase gifts that will spark discussion while supporting autism awareness? The autism ribbon or puzzle piece can be found on a variety of prod- ucts ranging from wearables like jewelry or T-shirts to bumper stickers and gifts. Amazon carries a wide variety of autism awareness products and allows shoppers to select their favorite autism awareness nonprofit to receive donations as you shop through AmazonSmile all year round. Autism awareness merchandise can be found in the full Autism Parenting Magazine guide: https:// tism-awareness/. How to raise awareness in your community Raising awareness for autism can be a daunting task. Many people don’t know where to begin or the most effective ways to make their messages heard. Often, intimate settings and meaningful conversations are the ways to go. Other times, taking part in an event to raise money for research or contacting your na- tional and local representatives can be effective. Having a conversation about autism awareness Having a conversation about autism and how it af- fects you or your family can be an intimidating task. This conversation may come up as a response to a negative interaction or a misunderstanding sur- rounding ASD, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. You may choose to invite a small group of peo- ple to your home to host an informal Q&A about au- tism. This can be an excellent opportunity for people to ask questions they may not have been previously comfortable asking. It can also be a time for you to explain person-first language and the many ways to be inclusive of someone with ASD. Join a community event Many nonprofits will be hosting events for Autism Awareness Month such as walks, sensory friendly films, donation drives, or seminars held at universities. Not only can these events provide a sense of community, but they can bring awareness to resources available locally. Becoming involved can be as easy as showing up the day of, but some families choose to help or- ganize the events, volunteer as guest speakers, man booths, or donate supplies. Before you chose to do- nate, be sure the nonprofit aligns with your goals for autism awareness and is fiscally transparent. Charity Navigator is an excellent resource for scoping out the nonprofits most worthy of your support. Contacting your representatives Your local and national representatives are elected to make sure your voice is heard. Calling, emailing, or taking a meeting with your representative can be a highly effective way of ensuring they know au- tism awareness matters. It can be nerve-wracking to speak to an elected official. To make sure you make the most of your conversation, have a plan. Be clear on what you want from your representative. Do you want him/her to support a potential law being dis- cussed? Do you want him/her to write or sponsor a bill? Do you want him/her to become more informed about autism? If possible, include your child in the conversation. Your voice matters No matter how you support autism awareness this April, your voice is important. Whether you choose to sport autism awareness merchandise or take a meeting with your representative, this month is the time to rally together to bring awareness to autism. Katherine G. Hobbs is a freelance journalist and uni- versity student studying English, with an emphasis on journalism, and psychology. She is interested in the im- pact of having a special needs child on the family dy- namic. Katherine is dedicated to bringing awareness of resources to families and providing help to those who love their children with autism. You can find her online at Autism Parenting Magazine | Issue 74 | 9