Recognizing Autism Awareness Month


Patrick Hruby/Los Angeles Times

Sophie is a student at Day Creek who was diagnosed with autism and has found a way to make her autism work for her.

Chloe L., Writer

Created in 1970, Autism Awareness Month recognizes the history behind one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the United States. Every April, individuals around the world who face this neurodevelopmental disorder share their stories and are supported. There are five main types of autism: Asperger’s syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Kanner’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder.

“You can’t say autism [and know automatically that] it’s going to be the same needs for every single student, it’s so different for everybody,” said Mr. Celis, an educational specialist at Day Creek Intermediate.

Margeret (a pseudonym), has a daughter named Sophie (also a pseudonym), who is a student at Day Creek Intermediate. Sophie was in third grade when she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which means that she has difficulty relating to others socially and often displays restricted or specialized interests.

When Margeret and her husband discovered that Sophie had autism, they felt both reassured and anxious. “I felt relieved that there was an explanation for her/our struggles. [But I couldn’t help but think to myself], would she be able to live a ‘normal life’? Get a driver’s license, work, have supportive friends, etc,” said Margeret.

In some ways, Sophie’s autism gives her “superpowers.” Sophie is a straight-A student that has many out-of-the-box ideas and an incredible memory for obscure details. Oftentimes, in more severe forms of autism, a child may not be able to talk or interact with people – even family members. 

“The frustrating thing for many people with autism is that they are capable of doing and feeling more than we might realize, but their abilities are ‘trapped’ inside by the challenges of communication difficulties,” said Margeret.

Autism Awareness Month is intended to make it possible for others to understand that every case is different, and that no autistic child is the same. Despite their communication differences, kids with autism still appreciate a kind word and being included in activities with peers.

Margeret reminds herself that even though autism may be scary. “Sophie is still the same kid before and the day after her diagnosis. The word autism doesn’t change the kid we have always loved and known – she is exactly the same person,” she said.