April is National Autism Awareness Month. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD tend to have challenges with social communication and social interaction. They can also have repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. According to the Autism Society, more than 3.5 million Americans live with ASD. There are varying degrees of autism and that’s why it’s called autistic spectrum. In New Jersey, about 1 in 45 children has ASD - an average about one student in every classroom statewide, and boys are five times more likely than girls to have autism.

Community involvement can mean everything. When it comes to autism acceptance,  inclusion and education can play a large factor in the life of someone with ASD. The more a community can rally around an individual the more successful they can become. If you are a parent a child with autism, you will want to get your child involved as much as possible. Faces 4 Autism has been in southern New Jersey for almost 20 years, providing socialization opportunities for kids and teens with ASD, and support and education for their family and friends. They host a variety of lively get-togethers, parties, and fundraising events. As someone involved with this organization, I have witnessed first-hand their dedication to the families in the group. I have seen the faces of the kids light up during their dances, walks and other wonderful events.

From their website - “FACES 4 Autism is a non-profit organization dedicated to education and support of children with Autism and their families. FACES 4 Autism supports children, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum and those who love them. FACES provides autism education and resources to families and educators in the South Jersey area. We are dedicated to improving the lives of individuals on the spectrum through social opportunities and programs that will foster self-advocacy, independence, and dignity.”

National Autism Awareness Month represents an opportunity to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the many people living with autism. You can participate by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon or get involved by showing understanding, teaching your kids acceptance or volunteering for a local organization, such as Face 4 Autism.