First day of Autism Awareness Month

First day of Autism Awareness Month
Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 7:17 PM EDT
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JONES COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - April first marked the first day of Autism Awareness Month.

In 1972, the Autism Society launched the first national autistic children’s week that eventually turned into what is known as Autism Awareness Month.

People who have autism have different strengths and challenges.

“Sometimes it affects them in their communication, social skills, and sometimes educationally,” said Emma Andrews, a Jones County Exceptional Care teacher.

Autism Awareness Month is a time dedicated to educating the public about the disorder.

Terri Wade, also an Exceptional Care teacher at Jones Senior High School, says, “It means making people aware of what our students are capable of and trying to help them reach their goals and to become productive adults.”

Both Jones Senior Exceptional Care teachers said they started out working in different positions before realizing they were passionate about helping children.

“I happened to get a job at Pollocksville Elementary as a teacher assistant and I loved it and I knew that was what I wanted to do,” said Andrews,

“I immediately found that working with kids with disabilities is just so rewarding, you get to see them grow,” said Wade.

At a previous job, Andrews worked with a boy who had a disability and wishes she could’ve helped him sooner.

“I felt like if I could have helped him when he was a younger kid, I think he could’ve had a better outlook and could’ve been a more productive adult,” said Andrews.

Both women agree that working with kids with disabilities has its challenges, but they find ways to make it work.

“I treat them like they are my own children and I try to always think about as a mother how would I want someone to treat my child,” said Wade.

Wade also said that autism has a wide spectrum, and while only some individuals may be declared autistic, everyone lies on the spectrum at some point.

Andrews said that she thinks everyone should educate themselves about what autism is.

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