April is Autism Acceptance Month, a time of year when organizations, families, and advocates raise awareness about autism and Asperger’s syndrome and celebrate kids and adults on the autism spectrum. According to the World Health Organization, about one in 270 people in the world has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that on average 1 in every 44 children has an autism spectrum disorder and the Washington State Department of Health estimates that between 23,000 and 48,000 children in our state have some form of autism. Autism Acceptance Month (formerly Autism Awaresness Month) has been held annually since 1970.
Here are some great ways to raise awareness or learn more about autism:
All in for Autism Walk in Bellevue
Run or walk in person and with a crowd to raise awareness about autism at the STAR 101.5 All in for Autism Walk on April 30. The station is partnering with the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club to present the event which includes 10K, 5K, and Kid Dash walk all starting at Bellevue Downtown Park. Funds raised by the event will be used to support autistic children, their families, and caregivers through several organizations, including Kindering, Athletes for Kids, Washington Autism Alliance, and Rotary. Pets are welcome on this walk. The 10K starts at 8 a.m. and the 5K at 8:15 a.m. A Kids Dash begins at 9:45 a.m. Pets are welcome. Register at All in for Autism.
Virtual run for autism research
If walking or running in a crowd feels overstimulating to your child or family, consider a virtual run to move in solidarity with those on the spectrum. Virtual Run Events has created the virtual See the World a Different Way Autism Awareness Run/Walk event to allow participants to walk or run 1 mile, 5-kilometer, 10-kilometer, half marathon, or full marathon all at their own pace. The event benefits the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).
A virtual race is a race that can be completed at any location you choose and at any time throughout April. Participants are invited to run, jog, or walk on roads, trails, tracks, treadmills, or any place where movement is possible. Everyone races at their own pace, timing themself as they go. After the race is completed, a medal is sent to the finishers! The cost to join the virtual race is $19.99 and that includes a medal, bib, and a 15% donation to OAR. Register at Virtual Run Events.
UW Autism Center Webinars
Each year, the University of Washington Autism Center celebrates Autism Acceptance Month by offering educational and other events to the community. This year, the center is offering three free webinars.
Free webinar for teens who wonder if they are autistic
On April 25 at 7 p.m., the center will host the webinar “Could I Be Autistic? A Free Webinar for the Self-Diagnosed or Wondering” online. The event is aimed at teens and adults who have self-identified as autistic or wonder if they may be on the spectrum. If you know a teen or adult who has felt different from other people throughout their life and for whom autism may be a possibility, the webinar may answer questions. Participants will watch a 20-minute prerecorded video and then participate in a live discussion led by two autistic professionals, the UW Autism Center’s Dr. Lucas Harrington and the Arc of King County’s Zack Siddeek. The webinar is designed to help participants consider the pros and cons of seeking a formal autism evaluation and then provide strategies and resources they can use to navigate life even without an official diagnosis. Registration is required.
Meet podcasters Jess and Alley
On April 26 from 1 to 1:30 pm., the autism center invites the public to meet On-Time Autism Intervention (OTAI) podcasters Jess and Ashley. In this live podcast session, Jess and Ashley will discuss the mission of OTAI and the origins of the podcast for parents of children under 3 who have recently been diagnosed with autism. They will briefly share some favorite moments, memories, and takeaways from the show’s special guests (experts from the field and extraordinary parents). This session will conclude with Jess and Ashley answering questions live from the audience. Registration is required.
Free webinar on how to talk to kids
And on April 27 from 7 to 8 p.m., the center is hosting the free webinar “Talking to Your Child About Their Autism.” Participants will watch a 45-minute recorded video and then join moderators for a live question-and-answer session. If you’ve had questions about how to talk to your child about their autism, this event is a great start. Participants will share ideas for how to promote neurodiversity at home, how to help your child understand what it means to be autistic, and strategies for equipping your child to be their own advocate. A host of resources are included, as well as useful insight from autistic advocates Dr. Lamar Hardwick, Dr. Lucas Harrington, Timotheus T.J. Gordon, and Ivanova Smith. Registration is required.
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