Autism is a familiar word used in the news, literature, and regular everyday conversations. More than likely, you have met and interacted with someone who is autistic. But do you know what autism actually means?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a brain disorder that typically presents itself around three years of age. It causes a collection of developmental disabilities in the areas of social interaction, communication, and repetitive and restrictive behaviors. The cause is unknown, but what is known is that autism occurs in all races, economic classes, and educational levels, but is four times more prevalent in boys than girls. We also know that each individual with autism and their family experience is unique.
Heather Hargrave, Associate Director of Development of the Autism Society of North Carolina, said, "Every person with autism is different, so no family's journey with autism is the same. Autism is associated with challenges of varying severity…Some children may be unable to communicate their basic needs and emotions; others may struggle with fitting in at school because they may act differently or are unable to relate to their peers. Some children face sensory issues, causing overstimulation. People with autism have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things, and it can take time to understand them and their unique perspectives."
Heather and others at ASNC work to improve the lives of these individuals and families through support and education. Odin Sevigny is one of those individuals having benefited from their assistance. After being diagnosed with autism at three years old, Odin and his mother worked with an ASNC Autism Resource Specialist who connected and worked with Odin's school and teacher. Together they have helped to cultivate his communication and social skills. Not only did Odin better learn independence skills, but his family gained valuable free ASNC online resources to learn how to support Odin as he transitions through each stage of life.
ASNC has many stories of success, but they can only continue to offer services and resources not available elsewhere in the state with the support of the community. Donations, fundraisers, and corporate sponsorships help fund not only the services and resources shared here but programs like Camp Royall. This camp, located in Chatham County, is one of the oldest and largest camps for people with autism. ASNC also provides employment support such as helping to find meaningful work and training to the community on the unique challenges of autism.
If you or someone you know needs support with an issue related to autism, visit autismsociety-nc.org or call 800-442-2762.