The month of April is World Autism Month, a month-long celebration and awareness campaign that kicks off with the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
Throughout the month, Autism Speaks® and other organizations work in unison with community partners and families to promote awareness, understanding, and acceptance. As 2020 has been designated the “Year of Kindness,” supporters across the globe are encouraged to achieve one million acts of kindness, big and small.
There are many ways to participate and show support for World Autism Month. Visit AutismSpeaks.org to learn more about:
- The Light It Up Blue initiative on Tuesday, April 2, 2020 (World Autism Day);
- Taking the online pledge, and sharing your pledge on social media;
- Donating or starting a fundraiser to benefit Autism Speaks and related causes;
- Hosting a Kindness Break to spread kindness virtually in your community;
- Accessing resources and tools to help with your own advocacy efforts.
Spotlight: Special Needs Choking Prevention Tips
Choking is a leading cause of injury and death among children, and especially those 5 years of age or younger. Because feeding, eating, and swallowing problems (dysphagia) affect roughly 7 out of 10 children with autism, choking is also a major concern for families caring for a child on the spectrum.
While speech-language pathologists and other medical professionals are a crucial resource in addressing habitual swallowing disorders and helping children learn how to eat, feed, and swallow safely, risks of choking and aspiration pneumonia (caused by food particles pulled into the trachea) must still be managed.
Parents and caregivers should understand that autism affects children in how they think and experience sensations, as well as functions that can be important in feeding and eating – such as communication, social interaction, adaptability (children with autism can get stuck on certain foods or textures), behavior, and motor / sensory function.
Here are a few tips that can help with feeding / eating issues, and reduce risks of choking:
- Keep a food diary to take note of when a child usually eats, the type of food they ate, how much they ate, and where and with whom they ate;
- Set a routine that can help establish good eating habits, use a visual schedule so your child knows what meal or snack is next, and provide alternatives if needed;
- Avoid risker foods unless they have been chopped into very small pieces. Common foods that pose choking hazard risks include round, firm foods like nuts and seed, chunks of cheese or meat, whole grapes and fruit chunks, hot dogs, and raw vegetables;
- Be aware of dangerous household items that can pose choking risks (i.e. latex balloons, coins, pen caps or marker caps, marbles or ball-shaped objects, and small toys / toys with small parts), and keep them safely out of the reach of children;
- Learn first aid for choking and CPR – you may be able to find local classes in your community or courses online;
- Supervise meal times, and set good examples of safe eating habits for your child (i.e. never walking, running, or playing while eating, having a routine, etc.);
Find more information about choking prevention.
Committed To the Autism Community
As a law firm that so deeply appreciates the trust families have placed in our firm during times of need, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., is committed to giving back to the communities which have allowed us to serve NYC and the state of New York for nearly 40 years.
In addition to supporting union workers, local communities, and numerous efforts that benefit great causes, our team is also proudly committed to the autism community. It’s why we’ve created the Avonte Oquendo Memorial Scholarship, which honors the memory of Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic boy who wandered away from his NYC school in 2013, and who was a major inspiration behind the passing of Avonte’s Law in New York, and Kevin and Avonte’s Law at the federal level. The Scholarship is open to high-achieving students living with autism or a loved one who has been diagnosed with autism – and our firm is currently accepting applications for the Fall 2020 semester!
During these unique and uncertain times, showing support and kindness is truly invaluable. We encourage everyone to share the word about World Autism Month, and to learn more about ways they can get involved from Autism Speaks.