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April 20, 2021

Autism Awareness Month

By Axell M. Rodriguez

April is Autism Awareness Month. 50 years ago, the Autism Society held the first National Autism Awareness event in 1970. Autism Awareness is celebrated by individuals and organizations worldwide to educate communities and people and to increase public awareness on autism. Since its inception in 1970, the movement has evolved and improved immensely ever since. 

Autism is a developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction, communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behavior. 

I was diagnosed with Autism at 3 and a half years old, specifically with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified-PDD NOS. The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida (CARD) was a resource mostly used by my parents to obtain information on Autism, services, medical and family-friendly activities to enjoy. Autism Speaks was also of great assistance to my family and especially me.

Learning that there are organizations and movements that help everyone be aware that not all of us are the same is amazing. It is in those differences that we find the most unique of individuals. By creating more autism awareness, more people can know about Autism.

It gets a bit easier to answer and accept some of the whys in my life as I continue to learn and discover myself. At times it is still hard to express myself and explain so that others understand why something is, the way it is,  why I like being apart and alone, why I may talk to myself, why I have very singular tastes or preferences. Why even though I may not always maintain eye contact I am listening to whoever is speaking to me and am not being rude or disrespectful, why I process things the way I do, why sarcasm and irony make no sense to me, why, why, why the list goes on.

Thanks to movements like Autism Awareness Month many more people are aware of just how singularly special we really are and how much we have to offer to society and to the world.

My advice to all of you who are diagnosed with autism whether it is a child, teenager, adult, or elder adult, is to always make use of the disability that you have and look at it as a positive instead of a negative.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: My name is Axell M. Rodriguez, I was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. I currently live in Land O’ Lakes, Florida with my family, including my two siblings, for the last 15 years. I have a disability called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I am a student at the Learning Academy Program at the University of South Florida, where they teach and train students on ways to obtain a job/career. After I graduate, I would like to become a writer.  I like video games, wrestling, basketball, anime, and fan-fiction, which are the reasons why I became interested in writing in the first place. 

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