DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — April is coming to a close, but an important issue that affects many people is being brought to light by the Dayton Autism Society (DAS). During the month of April, Autism Awareness Month is held.

2 NEWS sat down and spoke with the local affiliate of the National Autism Society to find out what viewers need to know and can do to help support those with Autism.

What is Autism?

Autism is formally known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which includes both the Asperger’s Disorder and the Pervasive Developmental Disorder, according to Autism Society. The disorder is usually found in children when they are within the stage of early childhood.

ASD affects different skills of individuals, including communication, relationships, self-regulation and social skills.

“It is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is often referred to as a “spectrum condition” that affects people differently and to varying degrees,” Autism Society says.

It is an important fact that people with Autism do not all have the same experience and can be in different places along the Autism Spectrum. Everyone has a different experience with having and living with the disorder.

“Some individuals are great at designing things, some are talented with technology, and some are strong readers….no matter what level their ASD manifests, there is always something new to learn from them that you will love and cherish,” DAS said. “Spending time with individuals diagnosed with ASD will provide you with the opportunity to see just vast the spectrum presents itself and it will certainly help you understand more about ASD.”

The Autism Society says no single-known cause has been identified for someone having Autism.

Stop The Bullying

In schools, DAS says bullying of students with Autism unfortunately continues to be an ongoing issue. The local organization says the issue of bullying, especially for students that have the disorder, is a cause of parents taking their children out of the school system.

“This is terrible and only further hurts the development of social and functional skills of the individual diagnosed with Autism,” DAS said.

To help try and prevent the issue of bullying and let students know what the disorder really is, DAS says schools should begin taking additional steps to implement for change.

“Peer buddies” is the first suggestion by DAS, which would help the student living with Autism to have some additional help within their day. The program would be helping the students throughout the day when needed, but more specifically during social settings, which individuals could be struggling with.

If schools continue the availability of inclusion and support, DAS says the level of support by everyone would continue to increase for anyone that has any disease.

“Facilitating activities that bring awareness to not only individuals with Autism but with individuals with disabilities can help other students learn more about how they can help with advocacy and support. Lastly, schools can continue to develop an environment of inclusion and diversity that aims to accept all individuals.”

Ways YOU Can Help

It may be a seem like a simple topic, but how can you really help an individual or family member of someone with Autism?

One of the tips DAS suggests for supporting the families is by showing acceptance, compassion, empathy and understanding. This is one of the key ideas to help yourself learn even more about the experiences, but also shows the family that you are there for them and care.

“Check in on these families, send a note, bring a meal; however, the most important thing anyone can do for someone supporting an individual diagnosed with Autism is to give of their time,” DAS tells 2 NEWS.

When an individual in a family is diagnosed, they can sometimes feel helpless, isolated or lost. The Dayton affiliate of the national organization wants everyone to assist families to make sure they know they are not alone in the journey.

People all across the world are encouraged to wear the color blue on World Autism Awareness Day, held annually on April 2.

Local Autism Event and Resources

Residents living in Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Preble counties are eligible for a ‘Family Grant’ program to help cover the costs of activities, equipment, respite and more, up to $250.

Activities like bowling, LEGOs, movies, swimming and a lot more are provided by DAS.

DAS is beginning a monthly Zoom session for families dealing with the disorder. The goal of the Zoom will be for families to connect, meet and have discussions of what they experience and can do in the future, along with other positive strategies. An upcoming date for the Zoom is scheduled to be held on Thursday, May 11 at 10 a.m. for families impacted by ASD, with a focus on evaluations.

Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 29, the organization will be holding the annual Dayton Autism Society 5K Walk/Run at the Payne Recreation Center in Moraine.

“The 5K Walk/Run travels through the neighborhood and around the small airport near the rec center, making it a great little walk for families. The event also hosts a resource fair where families can get information about different agencies that provide services for individuals with disabilities.”

Organizations like the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Preschool Promise and more will be at the event for families to speak with.

A food truck to benefit someone with ASD, Chase Connection Food Truck, will also be at the site for participants after the race.

To learn more about Autism or the Dayton Autism Society, find them on social media or visit their website. By clicking the website, you can also find more resources for support.