April is Autism Awareness Month and throughout the month I hope that you hear about and have the opportunity to participate in the many events scheduled to raise awareness and appreciation for all persons living with autism.
Locally, the State of Minnesota and City of Saint Paul have both issued proclamations confirming their support for Autism Awareness Month. It’s wonderful to see this support in action, as Autism Minnesota and its members have been diligently working to the Minnesota Legislature regarding funding issues and parental fee elimination for families in the Minnesota autism community.
As the mom of an awesome 7-year-old with autism, let me share that autism awareness and understanding is still greatly needed in our community, so I wanted to write something to help my fellow Minnesotans get involved. It is worth noting that not all members of the autism community support every organization presented in this article. Each group has a slightly different focus, different structure, and different goals. I very much encourage you to do your research and draw your own conclusions, and participate in Autism Awareness Month in whatever way you are most comfortable with. My family and I happen to work with Autism Speaks Minnesota, work closely with the Autism Society of Minnesota (AUSM), and volunteer with Autism Minnesota. I expect April to be a very busy month for us. But then, every month is pretty busy for families.
During all of April, the Autism Society of Minnesota is promoting the Autism Society of America’s Autism Uniquely You campaign. You can be a part of a number of online activities, events, and contests designed to help participants learn more about autism. To add a personal twist, they are asking people to paint their hands, then make a video or take a picture that they can share through social media with the hashtag #AutismUniquelyYou to create awareness and encourage donations to the Autism Society.
The Autism Society of Minnesota is also gearing up for the Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. At this event, you can meet a passionate group of participants there to inspire hope and innovation. The conference will include speakers, educators, paraprofessionals, therapists, psychologists, professionals, employers, caregivers, parents, and individuals on the spectrum. The goal is to provide a platform for the exchange of knowledge and ideas with one another—all with the goal of enhancing the lives of those with and touched by autism.
This year’s Minnesota Autism Conference takes place April 29th through May 2nd at the Doubletree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place Hotel. You can register and find additional information here.
Finally, today, April 2nd, is the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. To acknowledge this, Autism Speaks Minnesota is promoting their Light It Up Blue campaign and are encouraging people to display blue lights at home, at the office, and in the community. They have also asked iconic landmarks, buildings, and universities around the globe to Light It Up Blue.
You’ll notice a notice a number of buildings here is the Twin Cities that have joined in, including:
- IDS Tower – Minneapolis
- Target Field – Minneapolis
- Stone Arch Bridge – Minneapolis
- 35w Bridge – Minneapolis
- Hennepin Avenue Bridge – Minneapolis
- Hennepin County Medical Center – Minneapolis
- Colonial Warehouse Building – Minneapolis
- Como Park Conservatory Dome – St. Paul
- Cranes at Southdale construction site – Edina
Throughout April and the rest of the year, I hope that you continue to look for more ways that you help those of us in the Minnesota autism community promote awareness, understanding, acceptance, and appreciation for everyone living with autism.