April is Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd is World Autism Day. World Autism Day is an internationally-recognized day for raising awareness about autism. Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulty with social interactions, communication, and repetitive behaviors.
Because autism is a spectrum disorder, the symptoms and severity can vary greatly from one individual to another. The signs of autism are usually evident around 2 or 3 years of age. Approximately 1 in 59 children in the United States have autism which occurs more often in boys than girls.
A Child With Autism Might
- Avoid making eye contact
- Not respond to his or her name
- Avoid physical contact
- Get upset by changes to their routine
- Have delayed speech or no speech
- Repeat words or phrases
Because of the movie Rain Man (and, more recently, the television series The Good Doctor), many people associate autistic savant behavior with autism in general. Savant behavior refers to a person who has remarkable skills in one or more areas. However, not all savants have autism and not all people with ASD are savants.
Asperger's Syndrome No Longer an Official Diagnosis
Asperger's syndrome refers to behaviors that are on the autism spectrum without significant delays in language or cognitive development. Since 2013, Asperger's is no longer listed as an official diagnosis, but the term is still widely used to differentiate its associated behaviors from those of autism.
Be Sensitive to Nonverbal Autism
Nearly one-third of people with autism will remain nonverbal. While they may not use spoken communication, some people with nonverbal autism can learn to communicate through writing, typing, or sign language. Being nonverbal does not mean that an individual is not intelligent.
Because autism is so prevalent, it's likely that you know or will encounter a person with autism. Don't be afraid of them. Reach out to them and get to know them. Learn as much as you can about autism so that you and your children understand the challenges that people with autism face and can also recognize the strengths that they possess.
Use these free printables to begin teaching your children (and possibly yourself) about Autism Spectrum Disorder.01of 10
Autism Awareness Vocabulary
Print the pdf: Autism Awareness Vocabulary Sheet
One of the best ways to begin increasing awareness and understanding of autism is to become familiar with the terms associated with the diagnosis. Do some research on the internet or with a reference book to learn what each of the terms on this vocabulary worksheet means. Match each term to its correct definition.
Autism Awareness Wordsearch
Print the pdf: Autism Awareness Word Search
Use this word search puzzle as an informal way for students to continue to review the terms associated with autism. As students find each word among the jumbled letters in the puzzle, they should silently review to make sure they remember its meaning.03of 10
Autism Awareness Crossword Puzzle
Print the pdf: Autism Awareness Crossword Puzzle
Try this crossword puzzle for more informal review. Each clue describes a term associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. See if your students can correctly complete the puzzle without referring to their completed vocabulary worksheet.
Autism Awareness Questions
Print the pdf: Autism Questions Page
Use this fill-in-the-blank worksheet to help your students gain a better understanding of people with autism.05of 10
Autism Awareness Alphabet Activity
Print the pdf: Autism Awareness Alphabet Activity
Young students can use this worksheet to review the terms associated with autism and practice their alphabetizing skills at the same time.06of 10
Autism Awareness Door Hangers
Print the pdf: Autism Awareness Door Hangers Page
Spread awareness about autism with these door hangers. Students should cut each out along the dotted line and cut out the small circle at the top. Then, they can place the completed door hangers on the doorknobs around their house.07of 10
Autism Awareness Draw and Write
Print the pdf: Autism Awareness Draw and Write Page
What have your students learned about ASD? Let them show you by drawing a picture related to autism awareness and writing about their drawing.08of 10
Autism Awareness Bookmarks and Pencil Toppers
Print the pdf: Autism Awareness Bookmarks and Pencil Toppers Page
Participate in Autism Awareness Month with these bookmarks and pencil toppers. Cut out each. Punch holes on tabs of the pencil toppers and insert a pencil through holes.09of 10
Autism Awareness Coloring Page - National Autism Symbol
Print the pdf: Autism Awareness Coloring Page
Since 1999, the puzzle ribbon has been the official symbol of autism awareness. It is the trademark of the Autism Society. The colors of the puzzle pieces are dark blue, light blue, red, and yellow.10of 10
Autism Awareness Coloring Page - Child Playing
Print the pdf: Autism Awareness Coloring Page
Remind your children that kids with autism may play alone because they have difficulty interacting with others, not because they are unfriendly.
Updated by Kris Bales