Autism Awareness Activitiesby Erin Schreiner
Autism is a sensory disorder that affects millions of American children and adults. While nearly everyone has heard of the disorder, many fail to realize the impact that autism has on the way the autistic person interacts with his outside world. By engaging adults or children in autism awareness activities, you can help them develop a better understanding of autism.
Sensory Overload Activity
Autistic children are particularly prone to sensory overload, because the way in which they take in stimuli from the outside world differs. To help those who are not affected by autism better understand the challenges associated with this sensory overload tendency, you can create a similar overload for them. Select a busy area, such as a loud mall food court or busy playground. Create copies of a challenging activity sheet including math problems or riddles. Arm each participant with one of these sheets, and put him in the center of the action in your selected area. Ask each person to complete the sheet while trying to ignore the activity going on around him. After he has struggled to get the sheet completed, discuss the ways in which the sensory overload created by his environment made completing the task more challenging.
While adults are often capable of empathizing with others and, as a result, can put themselves in the shoes of an autistic person, children often do not have this ability. To help youngsters better understand autism and what it means, engage them in the creation of a picture book. Use materials at their reading levels. After they have learned the basics of the disorder, divide them into groups and ask each group to create a picture book featuring a main character who is autistic. Once finished, give groups the opportunity to share their creations by allowing them to visit a class of students in a lower grade and reading their tale. You could also arrange a story time at your local library.
Autism Awareness Posters
Encourage others to both build their knowledge of autism and then share this enhanced knowledge with others through the creation of autism awareness posters. First, teach participants the basic principles of autism, educating them on how many individuals suffer from autism, what suffering from autism means and how autistic people can be helped. After providing this basic education, ask each participant to create a poster containing the most important information they have learned. Place your posters on display.