Every April, the autism community comes together to celebrate World Autism Month. If you’re considering adopting a child with autism, or you’re interested in learning more about what you can do to get involved in the community, find out more about how you can spread awareness here.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a broad category of developmental disorders that impact a person’s brain development. Typically, those who have been diagnosed with autism face challenges with social interaction, trouble expressing needs and wants, and repetitive behaviors. Signs of autism usually appear in early childhood; however, it is possible for individuals with high‐functioning autism to not be diagnosed until later in life.
According to the CDC, about 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with a form of autism spectrum disorder, and boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD then girls. Autism also occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Research also suggests that a child is more likely to be diagnosed with autism if it runs in their family.
The Facts About Adopting a Child with Autism
Yes, adopting is a beautiful experience — and adopting a child with special needs can be more than rewarding. But the experience can be more challenging than you would have initially anticipated if you’re not ready for everything that comes with adopting a child with autism. If you’re considering adopting a child with special needs, here are some important facts that you should know.
- Children with autism are more likely to be in foster care: Because of the challenging behaviors that often come with autism, many families look to foster care as a temporary solution. In some cases, children that have been diagnosed with autism are also struggling with the effects of an abusive and neglectful home.
- A child can’t “outgrow” autism: Although there is no cure for ASD, studies have shown that an early diagnosis and ongoing treatment can show significant improvement over the course of an individual’s life. Treatment such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and speech therapy can help tremendously. The type of treatment that is right for your family will depend on your child’s needs.
- You may need to rely on your support system: It takes a village to raise a child, and raising a child with special needs won’t always be easy. It’s important to establish a strong network of support as you’re raising a child with autism. There are special needs groups and forums where you can meet other adoptive parents who have the same needs as your child. You could even potentially help other adoptive parents who are facing similar issues and are looking for advice.
- There will be ups and downs: The reality of autism is that it can take many different faces. Every child’s autism is unique, and there can be a huge difference between adopting a child with high‐functioning autism and adopting a child with low‐functioning autism. When you get to know one person with autism, you can’t assume that will be the personality of every child with autism that you meet, so keep that in mind when you’re doing your research about life on the autism spectrum.
- Children with autism are just like every other child: A special needs adoption will come with its own challenges and rewards, but in many ways it’s still similar to adopting any other child. As with every type of adoption, you should be prepared to do plenty of research about how to best meet their needs.
If you are considering a special needs adoption, one of the best resources will be an adoption specialist who can provide additional resources during your journey. We also recommend looking for real stories from adoptive parents who have also adopted a child with autism to learn more about their experiences.
What You Can Do for World Autism Month
If you are thinking of adopting a child with autism, there are many ways to spread awareness in your community and to get involved during World Autism Month. During April, you can volunteer with and donate to meaningful organizations such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, which is run by and for autistic people. You can also celebrate it though local events and activities through Affiliates, along with other online events and activities. Another great way to find out more about what’s going on in the autism community is through newsletters from the community. Here are some of our favorite ones to read through: