April 2, 2016, is World Autism Awareness Day, and April is Autism Awareness Month. Find cool activities for your kids, family, and school to observe the occasion and boost support for people living with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
Walk for Autism
Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism advocacy organization, organizes more than 50 fundraiser walks a year all across the U.S. and Canada. Find a walk in your region and organize a team with your family and friends to raise money for autism research and awareness programs.
Autism Speaks encourages people to "shine a light on autism" by wearing blue on World Autism Awareness Day. Take their "Light It Up Blue" (LIUB) campaign a step further and shine a blue light on your home or another building you own to raise even more awareness. Remember to spread the word about your family's efforts on social media by tagging your photos with the hashtag "#LIUB." Also, use this tool to turn your Facebook profile picture blue in April.
Read Books About Autism
Kids — especially younger children — may not understand what having autism means. Fortunately, there are several great children's books that help explain autism in kid-friendly ways. You'll find books for preschoolers on up to teens. After you read them together, encourage your child to ask questions and talk about the importance of showing empathy to all people.
Make Puzzle-Themed Crafts
Puzzle pieces are the symbol of autism. Upcycle any old puzzles you have by painting the pieces in primary colors and using them for crafts with your kids. You'll find several puzzle piece crafts for Autism Awareness on Pinterest, including wreaths, picture frames, garlands, and necklaces. You'll also find coloring pages for Autism Awareness Month. Display your artwork with pride, and when someone asks about it, fill her in about the special meaning behind it! Get the directions for this autism puzzle piece craft.
Photo credit: My Little Creative Escape
Organize a No-Bullying Campaign
Many children with ASDs struggle with friendships and socialization, and are often targeted for bullying in and out of school. Help your child organize an anti-bullying campaign in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Get permission from your child's school to set up a bullying prevention pledge table in the cafeteria, and encourage your child and his friends to collect pledges from as many students as possible.
Host Your Own Fundraiser
The Autism Society, another leading autism advocacy organization, encourages you to come up with your own fundraiser in honor of autism awareness through their "1 Power 4 Autism" program. Whether you would like to walk, run, cycle, row, or golf for charity, or if you'd like to host a lemonade sale, dance-a-thon, or paint night... the possibilities are endless. Help your child brainstorm fun ways to raise funds for a great cause, and start planning today!