Today, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day! As of 2018, Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ADS) affect one in every 59 births in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a spectrum of disorders that can cause a lack of, or delay in speech, repetitive movements or use of words, lack of eye contact, little interest in associating with peers, lack of make-believe or spontaneous play, fixation on objects, among other symptoms. (Autism Society, What is Autism)

There are no two ASD diagnoses that present in the same way. Some have worse symptoms than others, and some are higher functioning. However, each person with an ASD diagnosis, regardless of the severity of symptoms, can experience struggles in their home life, school, work, and in society because of a lack of understanding of ASD. Conversely, each person with an ASD diagnosis is gifted with their own unique talents, personality, and abilities they can share with the world just as anyone else. ASD is often misunderstood by general members in our society because of misrepresentation of ASD in media, movies, and television shows. This only increases the difficulties of those living with ASD, and their ability to be understood by their peers and others.

There are multiple members in our Hot Shots family who are affected by ASD as either a diagnosis they carry themselves, or has a family member who has an ASD diagnosis. The Hot Shots are proud to know these members who live with this diagnosis because of their unique gifts, talents, personalities, and contributions to our team. We are lucky to be a part of a soccer family who is comprised of some members with ASD diagnoses because they provide us with a unique perspective of the world of which we would otherwise be deprived.

You see, each person diagnosed with an ASD is capable of so much more than what general society believes. There have been so many stories of birthday parties gone awry because nobody invited to a party showed up for a child with an ASD. Our society needs to do a better job of educating children and adults about ASD and other disabilities so they can better understand the world of the individual with an ASD or other disability. Education breaks down barriers resulting in the ability to form friendships and bonds with those different from ourselves. This is one reason why I (Marie Hot Shots #5) choose to do educational speeches at schools, and educational panels with businesses, with the Joseph Maley Foundation regarding Disability Awareness. Without proper education, people without ASD cannot fully understand or appreciate the unique qualities of people diagnosed with ASD.

Therefore, on World Autism Awareness Day, the Hot Shots would like to take a moment to appreciate all those in our soccer family affected by ASD, as well as their families. It can be a difficult diagnosis to understand and manage, and how it affects each individual is so unique that a coping technique which works for one may not work for another. But, however severe the ASD affects any individual, each person living with an ASD is capable of providing a positive contribution to our society. Each member and family member of our Hot Shots team living with an ASD contributes positively to our team, and we would not be the same without them!

April is National Autism Awareness Month! Please, do your part in educating yourself on the unique spectrum of symptoms involved with ASD. Education, understanding, and compassion are the tools needed to assist those affected by ASD and fully appreciate the gifts they bring to our world. If you need help coping with your own diagnosis, or the diagnosis of a family member or friend, there are places that can help! Please see the following links for resources, education materials, and support for ASD.

SUPPORT GROUPS FOR AUTISM & ASD

Autism Society Chapters and Parent Support Groups in Indiana

Autism Support Groups and Branches

National Autism Association: Find a Support Group

Psychology Today: Autism Support Groups in Indianapolis (and other cities in Indiana)

Joseph Maley Foundation: Family Support

AUTISM & ASD INFORMATION

Autism Speaks: What is Autism

Autism Disorder Fact Sheet

Autism Society: What is Autism

US Department of Health and Human Services: Autism Information

CDC: Autism Information for Families

Autism & ASD AND SCHOOL/EDUCATION INFORMATION

Synapse: Education and Autism Spectrum Disorders Fact Sheet

Autism Speaks: Education and Autism

Organization for Autism Research: Education

Autism Society: Academic Success

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