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World Autism Acceptance Day 2024

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By Rory Ryan
The Highland County Press

The month of April has been known as Autism Awareness Month and, more recently, Autism Acceptance Month.

More often than not, my Sunday mornings include listening to either Fr. Mike or Fr. Mark from St. Mary Catholic Church in Hillsboro. From my perspective, Fr. Mike is a bit more experienced and lively, if you will, and Fr. Mark may be a bit more youthful and refined. But what do I know?

I enjoy listening to both priests while catching up on office responsibilities (Lord, forgive me) on the Sabbath.

After Fr. Mark concluded the Sunday, April 28 Mass within the suggested 45-minute time frame, I switched from 106.9 FM to 700 WLW AM on my office radio. It was on WLW that I listened to the final few minutes of an interesting interview on autism. Regrettably, I am not sure of the speakers, be they the interviewer or guest on the program.

However, I did hear a mention of the Lindner Center of HOPE. This piqued my curiosity, so I looked up the Lindner Center of HOPE and found a great column by Elisha Eveleigh Clipson, Ph.D. at

Dr. Clipson is a child psychologist ay the Lindner Center of HOPE and an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience.

Dr. Clipson writes: "Increased autism awareness has led to a greater sense of identity and connectedness among many members of the autism community. There have been opportunities to highlight the strengths of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. With increased autism awareness, more parents notice symptoms and wonder if the diagnosis applies to their child.

"I spend much of my professional time determining whether a child meets the criteria for autism. Part of the process is ruling out other explanations, and possibly ruling out autism. Sometimes families are upset when their child does not meet the criteria for autism. Individuals with ASD have differences in social communication and social interaction. Part two of the diagnosis has to do with restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities.

On the communication side, we see significant difficulty in the following areas:

• Social-emotional reciprocity. This may include trouble with back-and-forth conversations or failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.

• Nonverbal communication used for social interaction. For example, trouble understanding or using nonverbal gestures, lack of facial expressions or avoiding eye contact.

• Developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships. For instance, trouble sharing in imaginative play, making friends or a seeming absence of interest in peers.

Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior might include:

• Repetitive motor movements or speech. Classic examples include repetitive phrases and unusually repetitive lining up of toys.

• Some children with autism have inflexible routines, unusual greeting rituals, or distress with small changes.

• The experience of abnormally restricted, fixated interests or preoccupations may be present.
Many children with autism have differences in sensitivity to sensory input. This may include indifference to pain, excessive smelling of objects or visual fascination with the movement of an object.

So what are parents, grandparents and other family members to do? That question lingers, mostly unanswered, as to definitive results. From my own (limited) experience, the only two words that readily come to mind are love and patience. Both are unconditional.
According to Dr. Clipson, autism might also be something known as Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder. This involves persistent trouble with the social use of verbal and nonverbal communication. Symptoms include difficulty with:

• Greeting others and sharing information.

• Changing communication to match the context, e.g. communicating differently with a teacher than a peer.

• Knowing how to use nonverbal signals to regulate social interactions.


• Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Children with ADHD experience more sensory processing issues than other children. They may be more sensitive to sounds or smell.
They may have difficulty taking turns or picking up on social cues. They may become distracted and disengage in the middle of a conversation.

Not all children with autism have behavior problems, Dr. Clipson says. In fact, many do not.

Having autism does not exclude a person from also experiencing the conditions described above. Yet, meeting the criteria for one or more of these conditions does not mean a person has autism. Providing an accurate diagnosis honors the experience of people with ASD and other conditions. 

It empowers families to best support their children throughout the lifespan.

This month, President Joe Biden proclaimed World Autism Acceptance Day.

"America was founded on the idea that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout their lives," Biden said. "Today, we champion the equal rights and dignity of the millions of Americans on the autism spectrum, and we celebrate the immense contributions of all neurodiverse people, whose perspectives and experiences make America a richer nation.

"Some 5.4 million American adults and one in 36 children have been diagnosed with autism.  Their experiences with the condition vary widely, but their talents and potential are too often misunderstood or overlooked. Autistic people routinely face unnecessary obstacles to securing employment and health care and children face bullying and barriers to education. We can work to end these disparities and ensure they have an equal opportunity to reach their dreams by making sure that people with autism and those who support them have the resources and tools they need to communicate, grow, work and achieve greater independence."

Is there any other choice?

Love, patience and never-ending effort are the families' best reserve. Never, never give up. Let's just count our blessings. And be thankful and grateful.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County's only locally owned and operated newspaper.

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••• Publisher's note: A free press is critical to having well-informed voters and citizens. While some news organizations opt for paid websites or costly paywalls, The Highland County Press has maintained a free newspaper and website for the last 25 years for our community. If you would like to contribute to this service, it would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be made to: The Highland County Press, P.O. Box 849, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133. Please include "for website" on the memo line.


Matthew (not verified)

29 April 2024

My favorite relative, and a sweet young woman, is one of my cousins living in coastal California. She doesn't have autism, but it's some other severe congenital and behavioral ailment. I can't remember the syndrome: Cornelia something.... but that's not important. She's over 30 years old now. She has her routines and her ticks. But she loves unconditionally. And I make sure to listen to her, message her, and spend time with her every time the opportunity presents itself. Of all the unsavory qualities in me, she brings out the few Godly and wholesome virtues in everyone who knows her. She's a Gift, and she deserves our time and attention. Of all earthly things she may be aware of or not, I know she loves God and his Son Jesus. (This is why I fully support the overturn of the antiquated and barbaric SCOTUS decision of Roe vs. Wade in 1974.) "It's not what you know, it's who you know." That's usually a quote for someone that's putting in for a job, a promotion, or a political favor. I'm just thankful to know other believers. If I continue to open my heart to God and to those truly in need, then all of my foibles and mistakes will be an afterthought. Thank you for another thoughtful column on HCP.
••••Publisher's note: Thank you, Matthew. Much appreciated.

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