It’s that time of year again! Over the past several weeks, OAR has been working with teachers, parents, and other members of the autism community to lay the groundwork for April’s National Autism Awareness Month.
What do you have planned for Autism Awareness Month? Join OAR to raise awareness, educate others, and increase autism acceptance.
Goal 1: Teach children about their peers with autism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now report that one in 59 children have been identified with autism. With this increased prevalence rate, it’s important that we teach children about their peers on the spectrum. OAR developed a peer education program called Kit for Kids to help educators, parents, friends, and classmates teach students in grades K-8 about autism. The kit revolves around a story about a new student named Nick, who has autism.
How you can help: Since 2014, we have taught more than 123,000 students about autism! Together, let’s reach an additional 8,000 students by the end of April. You can use this program to help start class discussions, enhance school campaign efforts, and eliminate common misconceptions students have about the disorder. In addition to telling the “What’s Up with Nick?” story, teachers can also use OAR’s Autism Tuned In website, which features animated videos and online games about Nick, to reinforce student learning in a fun and engaging way.
Goal 2: Provide informational resources for families, schools, and self-advocates.
OAR’s Life Journey Through Autism guidebooks offer tools, lessons, and advice on how to prepare to meet the needs of persons with autism. OAR hopes to distribute 5,000 Life Journey Through Autism guides to families, schools, conferences, police and fire stations, and lending libraries, including 1,000 copies each of these newly updated resources: A Parent’s Guide to Research and A Guide for Military Families.
How you can help: You can help by equipping people in your community with these informative resources. If you know of any local support groups, families, schools, organizations, medical facilities, or first responders, please spread the word to them about these free resources. OAR encourages Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) offices to pre-order copies of the updated A Guide for Military Families for distribution. Knowledge is power, and these resources will equip your local community with the knowledge it needs. Order up to two paperback copies of any of OAR’s guides for free through our online store or contact for bulk distribution.
Goal 3: Strengthen family support for young and teen siblings and their parents.
Being a sibling has its highs and lows, on or off the autism spectrum. Autism siblings, however, face some additional unique challenges. OAR can help. Each of OAR’s three sibling guidebooks, written by and for autism siblings, are aimed at meeting the specific needs and concerns of young children, teens, and caregivers.
This April, OAR’s goal is to deliver 1,800 copies of Life as an Autism Sibling: A Guide for Teens; Autism, My Sibling, and Me; and Brothers, Sisters, and Autism: A Parent’s Guide.
How you can help: Are you a parent or do you know or work with any siblings of kids on the spectrum? Use OAR’s sibling guides to make sure their questions are being answered and that they are receiving the support they need. Spread the word far and wide. Remember, up to two copies of each of OAR’s guides are available for free through our online store. Contact for bulk orders.
Goal 4: Help adults with autism prepare for employment through Hire Autism.
OAR’s employment initiative, Hire Autism, is dedicated to helping individuals with autism find meaningful employment opportunities across the United States. Hire Autism supports job seekers through various aspects of the job search process, from career exploration to providing helpful job search tools and advice.
Hire Autism’s top goals for April are to register 100 new job seekers on Hireautism.org, recruit 10 volunteers for our Navigator program, and drive more job seekers to participate in our Jobtimize pilot that will run until April 30. Jobtimize is a career assessment tool that provides job seekers with personalized job recommendations and listings in their area that are based upon their behavioral traits, attitudes, interests, education, and experience level.
How you can help: There are four ways to get involved and support Hire Autism’s goals:
- Sign up to become a Hire Autism navigator and directly help individuals prepare for the job search by providing feedback on their resume or cover letter.
- Spread the word or refer job seekers to Hire Autism.
- Share our step-by-step guides and resources.
- Write for the Hire Autism employment blog.
To learn more about how you can get involved or to request brochures and other Hire Autism promotional materials to share, contact Amanda Rioux at .
Goal 5: Raise money for new research and resources.
2019 was another banner year for the RUN FOR AUTISM with runners raising more than $740,000. This year we are again partnering with endurance events all over the country as well as a few international events. RUN FOR AUTISM’s goal is to raise over $100,000 for OAR during the month of April and have over 400 athletes signed up to dedicate their 2020 miles to autism research. All funds raised will go toward supporting research grants and distributing resources. OAR also hopes the DIY program will highlight OAR resources and get them into the hands of new readers.
How you can help: Now is a perfect time to join the RUN FOR AUTISM team or kick your current OAR fundraising into high gear. Run a race and fundraise for autism. Taking on a fitness goal for a cause might just help you stick to your personal fitness goals. Pick any race in the month of April — your local 5K or your state’s big marathon or something in between — and register on the race website. Then sign up for OAR’s DIY Athletic Events program and participate in any event, any time all while raising money for autism research.
Can’t find a race in your area? Take part in the Active for Autism 5K and support OAR from anywhere.
Do you know of anyone who loves to run or wants to join the campaign? Then let them know how they can join by sharing this article. For more information, contact Sean Flynn, manager of RUN FOR AUTISM, at 703-243-8020 or .
Remember, it is not too early to start preparing for April’s National Autism Awareness Month. If you are interested in joining the cause by volunteering, proposing new ideas, or in some other way, then please contact OAR at or 703-243-3466.