April is Autism Awareness Month, and in recognition of World Autism Awareness Day, communities across the globe are being asked to “Light It Up Blue” on April 2.
Only about 1,375 students have been identified with autism spectrum disorders in HISD (a figure that represents less than one percent of the district’s entire student population), but Jermisha Hardeman, who teaches students with autism at Yates High School, says that it’s still important to increase awareness on this subject.
“With my students, you can’t just look at them and tell they’re autistic,” she said. “But it’s important to recognize them and to learn how to interact with them, because autism is on the rise. The numbers have increased. It’s estimated now that one in every 68 people falls somewhere on the autism spectrum.”
Hardeman notes that quick detection is key, as many autistic children are fully capable of leading productive lives as adults with early intervention.
“Even though most doctors won’t officially diagnose kids until they’re about three, there are signs to look for, and the earlier you detect it, the better your chances are of finding successful ways to control some of the undesirable behaviors associated with this condition.”
Here are some simple things people can do to Light It Up Blue:
- Wear Blue to Work—Wear blue clothing and ask your friends, co-workers and schools to wear blue, too. Take a group photo and upload it to www.lightitupblue.org to join the Light It Up Blue Challenge.
- Light your House/School Up Blue—Purchase blue light bulbs and lanterns and replace your outdoor lighting with these blue bulbs, or you can buy blue lighting filters to cover existing lighting.
- Light It Up Blue Online—Post on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, or website about how you are “lighting it up blue” to raise autism awareness and educate the general public about autism spectrum disorders.
- Light It Up Blue Stories—Celebrate your loved one, friend, coworker, or student affected by autism by telling a brief story about his/her recent accomplishments or how that person has impacted your life via email, Facebook, Twitter, blog, or website.
Watch the video below to learn more about how HISD is using effective teachers and assistive technology to reach autistic students, including 10-year-old Patrick at Port Houston Elementary School.
[vimeo https://vimeo.com/62897794 width=”600px” height=”330px”]