COLUMN: Promoting acceptance, understanding during Autism Awareness Month

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 8, 2022

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Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions that affect an individual’s ability to interact with others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children in the United States today.

Every year during the month of April, we recognize Autism Awareness Month — a time to encourage understanding and highlight the unique talents of those with autism and bring attention to their needs.

During the annual recognition, the medical community, parents, advocates and community leaders work to spread awareness and help make sure people have the resources they need or help someone else who may be affected. These efforts increase public knowledge and promote inclusion and self-determination as a way to ensure people with autism have the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.

This year we want to go beyond simply promoting autism awareness to encouraging a movement toward acceptance and appreciation. I encourage you to take the time to review some of the many free online resources to better understand the multiple facets of autism spectrum disorder and encourage others to do the same. For those with a loved one who has been diagnosed with some form of autism, it often takes years of trial and error in establishing a routine and fluent communication but establishing this connection could mean a world of difference for those you care about.

There are also several local organizations working to promote Autism Awareness Month.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of joining a group of tireless advocates to participate in the first Niles/Buchanan Autism Walk. The event hosted a number of family-friendly activities and entertainment for everyone, and the walk was a major success in raising awareness and promoting inclusion. I want to thank everyone who participated and those who helped make the event possible. I look forward to this becoming an annual tradition.

Please join the cause and help to raise awareness about autism and learn how we can continue to improve and make a difference.

To learn more or to get involved, visit


Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Niles, represents the 21st state senate district, which includes all of Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph counties.