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 promote April’s National Autism Awareness Month.
What do you have planned for Autism Awareness Month? Now is the best time to prepare if you haven’t begun to do so already.
Here’s how you can join our cause to raise awareness, educate others, and increase acceptance of autism:
Goal 1: Teach children about their peers with autism.
OAR developed a peer education program called Kit for Kids to help educators, parents, friends, and classmates like you teach students in grades K-8 about autism. The kit revolves around a story about a new student named Nick, who has autism. You can use this program to help start class discussions, enhance school campaign efforts, and eliminate common misconceptions students have about the disorder.
How you can help: Since 2014, we have taught more than 100,000 students about autism! Together, let’s reach an additional 6,000 students by the end of April. 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. Help spread the word about these resources as your friends and colleagues gear up for National Autism Awareness Month. OAR has promised to provide at least 5,000 information guidebooks to support families, schools, conferences, first responders, and parent resource centers. Those guidebooks include A Guide to Safety 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 , 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 1,500 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 . Contact email@example.com for bulk orders.
Goal 4: Help adults with autism in Northern Virginia get employed through Hire Autism.
OAR’s employment initiative, Hire Autism, will begin to wind up the demonstration phase in Northern Virginia in the month of April. Hire Autism helps applicants access autism-friendly employers, a jobs board, and resources to assist in their job search. Hire Autism’s top goals for April are to bring in more jobseekers through local events, strategically promote our job seeker resources, and further enhance our community presence within Northern Virginia.
Beyond that, OAR will continue to support applicants in their search for meaningful employment, recruit additional employers, and train our first cohort of Hire Autism advocates in mid-2019. In June, Hire Autism will expand its reach to Washington, DC, and the Maryland suburbs.
How you can help: There are many ways you can get involved with Hire Autism. You can spread the word about the Hire Autism website to your friends and family using social media. If you know of any businesses in the Northern Virginia area that may be interested, give them OAR’s informational brochure. If you like to write and are interested in the topic of adult employment, contribute to the Hire Autism blog.
To learn more about how you can get involved or to request brochures and other Hire Autism promotional materials to share, contact .
Goal 5: Raise money for new research and resources through RUN FOR AUTISM.
2018 was a record-setting year for the RUN FOR AUTISM with runners raising more than $800,000. This year we are again partnering with endurance events all over the country as well as a few international events. These events make this year’s calendar one of the largest in OAR history. A great way to make a difference and show your support of autism research is by joining the RUN FOR AUTISM team and raising money for OAR. Now is a perfect time to join the RUN FOR AUTISM team or kick your current OAR fundraising into high gear.
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 2019 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: 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. You can also join the RUN FOR AUTISM at one of our featured events and be a part of the OAR team.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-243-3466.