Another #autismawareness month is among us. Tomorrow is #lightitupblue day. This is a day that you will notice tons of people wearing blue, as well as government and other business buildings shinning blue light in support of the cause. LEAF is also taking this month to raise funds in order to help change many of the stigmas associated with #autism. Before I get into the details of the fundraiser, I want to take a moment and share some knowledge about Autism.
I and many others in America, heard the #shms (Steve Harvey Morning Show) on Friday, March 27. He was acting under one of his many characters when he made a joke about an adult person with special needs. I personally like Steve Harvey and I respect him as a businessman. When I heard the joke, I was more shocked than upset. I was surprised that a man with such class would make such a joke. In the days of social media, people in certain positions must be careful of jokes they tell. Although he is a comedian, he is also a talk show and game show host. He did offer what I thought to be “kind of an apology” later that day. There is also a video floating around from a mother that responded to Steve Harvey’s joke. Many are saying that the woman is being “too sensitive” and that she should “get a sense of humor”. This brings me to the point of this message today.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) states “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.” ( http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html ) I was once asked if I thought that Autism was a disease. My answer now remains the same as it was back then. Autism is not a disease. It is a syndrome comprised of social and behavioral challenges that can possibly affect a person’s ability to learn certain information.
Children or adults with ASD might:
- not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
- not look at objects when another person points at them
- appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
- be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
- repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
- have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
- repeat actions over and over again
- lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)
These are a just a few of the many struggles people with Autism face daily. I don’t think the woman that contacted Steve Harvey overreacted at all. None of us know what she struggles with on a daily basis. The thing about Autism is that it varies in each person,. No two people are the same or display the same behaviors. I thought his joke was tasteless & I hope to continue to hear him on the radio for the respectable man that he is.
Many children on the spectrum do not have opportunities to engage in the community or simple leisure activities, such as swimming or even going to the zoo, because of behavioral difficulties that they face; nevermind them going to church because of the stares they may receive or even end up being the subject of a bad joke. Many times, family members are not able to handle these unpredictable behaviors out in public. LEAF Learning Center is expanding services to be able to provide opportunities to youth on the Autism Spectrum. In order to better provide these services, LEAF will need help from all of our supporters and beyond. We are raising funds so that we can purchase a 15 passenger van in order to transport the children and staff safely in the community. We have candles and other items available at http://www.celebratinghome.com/fundraiser/teamleaf/OnlineFundraiserHome.aspx . We are also accepting donations for those that do not wish to purchase an item, but want to help make a difference at https://fundly.com/here-we-grow-teamleaf .
We are all put on this earth together to help one another. Make a difference today so that we can show Mr. Harvey & others that may agree with his humor that these children are as deserving of enjoying life and activities just like anyone else. For more information, please feel free to connect with us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/learnwithleaf or visit the website http://www.learnwithleaf.com