The Color(s) of Autism
Light It Up Blue, and Red, and Yellow
April is National/World Autism Awareness Month. Many organizations and individuals alike celebrate this month with activities dedicated to assisting persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)(s). Many autism education and advocacy groups have put together calendars full of events, provide information about local events, and even suggest that you create your own event to build autism awareness. The Autism Society’s calendar looks like this, www.autismsociety.org.
There are many other organizations that do similar things from small to grandiose. Autism Speaks has the most visibility with their creation and promotion of “Light It Up Blue” for World Autism Awareness Month, and it is my strong opinion that shining a light on autism is very important. For more information on what they are doing go to Autism Speaks org.
Of the colors I think about that are used to represent autism, the color blue stands out to me, not because it is used to light up tall buildings and famous landmarks in major cities across the world on April 2nd, but because of what it represents.
The psychology of color is used in design all the time. Take restaurants, for example, the ones that want you to eat quickly use red and orange hues. By contrast, the ones that want you to stay and enjoy the experience use the softer hues of blue, green, or purple. In work environments, when sensory sensitivity needs to be considered, types of lighting, colors, sound dampening insulation, wall coverings, and placement of live plants or pictures of serene nature scenes will greatly assist in reducing work anxiety, thereby increasing the potential for productivity.
Focusing on the positive aspects of the color blue, it is quite fitting that it is one of the colors that jumps out to me. Sky blue can be described as very peaceful, heavenly, calming, constant, and reassuring to name a few. Speaking behaviorally, blue is considered to communicate trust and loyalty. One more time, trust and loyalty. What better way to communicate with people in general, but specifically with individuals with ASD(s)? Being trusted, just as we work with our students and clients to “find a trusted adult” when they are in danger, is proven commitment to helping them. Being loyal further promotes a most helpful relationship between you and the individuals with whom you support and interact. What a privilege it is to take part in these kinds of relationships.
Now to the additional colors of autism… not just the color blue, but also red, and yellow. The puzzle piece autism awareness ribbon is presented like this: There are different variations of the ribbon, promoting the uniqueness of individuals with autism. Some individuals may not feel that it is representative of this disability population in the appropriate manner, but as with any awareness building campaigns, the symbols will evolve as attitudes change and understanding increases. For example, there are even more colors represented in yet another symbol which is ever-growing in popularity: The Autism Infinity Symbol is becoming a popular alternative to the puzzle piece autism symbol as well as a symbol for neuro-diversity.
Regardless of the symbol used, you get the picture, the many shapes and colors presented will hopefully help us think about just how different life is experienced by individuals with ASD, and maybe, just maybe, we will begin to understand these individuals if we just take the time to get to know them. Spend enough time with these fantastic individuals and you will begin to see people with wants, needs, hopes, and dreams, most of which are more similar to your own than you realize. The best way to learn this is through experience, so please get out there this April for an autism awareness event!
For more information about what Including Kids is doing for Autism Awareness Month, please visit our website at:
www.includingkids.org, or bookmark this page and refer back to this list all month long.
April 2—World Autism Day
April 3—InKids Lights It Up Blue
April 3—Sensory Friendly Day at the Children’s Museum
April 4—Sensory Friendly Jump Day at Urban Air Trampoline Park Humble
April 6—InKids Lunch B.U.N.C.H.
April 10—InKids celebrates National Sibling Day (specific to sibs of special needs kids)
April 11— Sensory Friendly Jump Day at Urban Air Trampoline Park Humble
April 12—InKids Light It Up Blue Young Adult Social (open to current clients only)
April 13— InKids Lunch B.U.N.C.H.
April 13—InKids Celebrating Autism Parent Wellness Group meets
April 14—Screening of Swim Team at Children’s Museum
April 18—Sensory Friendly Jump Day at Urban Air Trampoline Park Humble
April 18—Wings for All visits IAH—InKids students practice airport skills
April 19—Holy Trinity Episcopal school, InKids Bridge partner, Lights It Up Blue
April 19—Lunch & Learn: Parent guest speaker “All About Me”
April 20—InKids Lunch B.U.N.C.H.
April 22—“Until All the Pieces Fit” Autism Appreciation Event sponsored by Chick-fil-a Fall Creek
April 25— Sensory Friendly Jump Day at Urban Air Trampoline Park Humble
April 26—InKids’ CCI spreads Autism Awareness in the community
April 27— InKids Lunch B.U.N.C.H.
April 28—Parents’ Night Out
April 29—Spotlight Series Workshop with free childcare: Techy Tools and Autism Apps
Joel C. Johnson is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and serves as the Assistant Community Outreach Director for Including Kids. He has six years experience working with young adults with autism and enjoys the uniqueness of this disability population. Joel worked at Utah State University as an assistant track and field coach for several years and as the coordinator of the EmployAbility clinic for nearly two years, helping to develop a program placing individuals with autism and other disabilities into competitive employment.
He understands educational, public, private, for profit, and nonprofit business work environments and cultures. He is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to his clients and their families, and is an advocate for individuals with disabilities to experience full community inclusion.