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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month …

but you can act to support families and protect children all year round!
The future prosperity of any community depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. When a community invests wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship. Yet, when not all children have equal opportunity for healthy growth and development — due to experiences of child abuse and neglect — we put our future at risk.

While April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, you can make a big difference year-round through small acts that help protect children, strengthen families, promote traits that help protect families —

and, ultimately, prevent the abuse and neglect of children.

Here is a list of simple tips that can have a positive effect on the well-being and healthy development of children, families and communities. Print out the tip sheet PDF) to hang on your fridge, post in your office or carry with you, and download one of the images to the right as your computer desktop background for a reminder of things you can do in April, and throughout the year, to prevent child abuse and neglect!

For your family:
–As a parent, block out 15 minutes a day to play one-on-one with your child — doing anything he or she wants. We know from studies that the more parents engage in positive activities with their children, the less they use negative physical and psychological discipline.
—Tell the children or youth in your life how much you care for them and appreciate them. All children deserve to have someone who is “crazy about them” and loves them unconditionally.
—Work with the kids in your life to explore their heritage and learn their family’s story. Every family has a rich story to tell and our connections to our past help us carry forward our values and traditions.
—Connect with grandparents to preserve cultural heritage. Grandparents are an incredible source of cultural heritage — from traditions to language to food! Encourage them to tell stories to their grandchildren and even visit their schools to share where they come from.
For friends and neighbors:
–Compliment a father — someone you know or even someone in public — on something positive you see him do with his children. Dads contribute uniquely to children’s development.
—Offer your time to baby-sit for the child of a friend, neighbor or family member. All parents need help sometimes — even if it is just to rest or “recharge” for an hour or two.
–Mentor a young dad you know in growing his relationship with his kids. Some young dads may need help with transportation or in identifying helpful resources for their children.
–Support parents looking for a job by offering your professional knowledge and experience in resume writing or preparing for a job interview. Financial stability links directly with family stability and can have a big effect on the emotional well-being of caregivers and their children.
—Encourage single mothers you know, whenever possible, to support the involvement of children’s fathers in their lives. When non-custodial dads work to be involved in the lives of their children, they need the positive support of the child’s other parent or caretaker to encourage the development of that relationship.
—Build community trust and togetherness by inviting friends to participate in a meaningful cultural event in your life. Helping people learn about your culture may help them understand that despite some differences, we have a lot in common — especially the need for support now and then.
—Be a resource and “sounding board” for a dad who is separated from his children. Dads provide qualities and benefits for their children no one else can.
—Arrange a potluck event in your neighborhood to get to know other parents and their kids. Friends and neighbors can give outstanding support to families in times of need or stress.
For your community:
–Sponsor, volunteer at or participate in a cultural event in your community. Families come from different cultural backgrounds that all bring value in creating caring and compassionate communities.
–Do volunteer work for a youth- or family-serving organization in your community. Some families just need a little help from time to time, and community organizations are designed to do just that.
–Take action on legislative issues that affect children and families. Call your elected representatives, join demonstrations and be sure always to vote to show that you support services to help families raise healthy children.
–Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Caring and connected neighborhoods can be powerful in reducing neighborhood violence and supporting struggling parents.
–Create a “Safe Children Zone” in your neighborhood. Host a community meeting with your neighbors to talk about what each of you can do to help create a sense of safety for the children in your neighborhood.
–Volunteer at or donate resources to a local preschool or daycare center. Early education builds the foundation for a lifetime of healthy brain development.
–Ask yours or another faith-based organization in your community about donations — even small ones — that can be made to support families in need. Some families need help providing for their children’s basic needs.
–Contact your local child welfare and family-serving agencies and ask about volunteer opportunities. Each of us has a role to play in creating safe and healthy communities for children.
–If you have reason to believe a child may be at risk of harm in their home, call your local child abuse hotline. Anyone who is worried about the well-being of a child can call to report their concerns.

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Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect
Resources on child abuse prevention, protecting children from risk of abuse, and strengthening families. Includes information on supporting families, protective factors, public awareness, community activities, positive parenting, prevention programs, and more. Also access the National Child Abuse Prevention Month website.

Understanding child abuse prevention and what to do when children are at risk. Includes frequently asked questions and links to related Federal and national organizations and State contacts that work to prevent child abuse.

Promoting child & family well-being
Information on well-being and ways programs and systems can support it. Includes resources on protective factors, marriage, fatherhood, and parenting.

Public awareness & creating supportive communities
Tools for sharing a child abuse prevention message with your community and building community support.

Prevention programs
Standards for prevention programs, research on what works,

information on the role of related professionals, and resources for specific types of programs.

Developing & sustaining prevention programs
Considerations for managing a prevention program, including

community needs assessment, collaborating with community

partners, family engagement and retention, cultural competence, training, and funding.

Evidence-based practice
Child abuse prevention programs and strategies supported by scientific research.

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The first National Autism Awareness Month was declared by the Autism Society in April 1970.

The aim of this month is educate the public about autism. Autism is a complex mental condition and developmental disability, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with other people. Autism can be be present from birth or form during early childhood (typically within the first three years). Autism is a lifelong developmental disability with no single known cause.

People with autism are classed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the terms autism and ASD are often used interchangeably. A wide spectrum disorder, people will autism have set of symptoms unique to themselves; no two people are the same.

Increasing Awareness About The Common Characteristics Of Autism

Whilst no two people with autism will have the same set of symptoms,

there are common characteristics found in those with this complex disability.

Briefly, these characteristics include:

Social Skills

– people with autism have problems interacting with others; autistic children do not have adequate playing and talking skills. Mild symptoms on one end of the spectrum may be displayed through clumsy behavior, being out of sync with those around them and inappropriate or offensive comments being made. At the other end of the spectrum an autistic person may not be interested in others.

Empathy

– empathy is the ability to recognize and understand the feelings of another person. People with autism find it harder to show empathy to others although they can be taught to acknowledge the others feelings.

Physical Contact

– in some cases, autistic people do not like physical contact such as hugs, tickling or physical play with others.

Sudden Changes To Their Environment

– a sudden change in the surrounding environment may affect a person with autism. The could be a loud noise, a change in intensity of lighting or even a change in smell.

Speech

-speech can be affected in people with autism. ‘Echolalia’ is a typical speech symptom in which the person repeats words and phrases that they hear. The speech tone of an autistic person may be monotonous. Where symptoms are more extreme the person may not speak.

Changes To Behavior and Routine

– people with autism often display repetitive behavior in which they repeat the same action many times over. For example, a person with autism may repeatedly pace around a room in a certain direction. Any change to their behavior or routine can be unsettling for them. This could be a reordering of daily activities such as when a person brushes their teeth, takes a shower and has breakfast when they get up in the morning.

Other characteristics of autism include an unpredictable learning rate, obsessions and physical tics.

Autism Is Widespread, Awareness About This Condition Is Not
In the United States, autism affects 1 in every 110 children. National Autism Awareness Month aims to make the public more aware about this widespread disability and the issues which arise in the autism community. As about 1 in 150 people in America have autism, the chances are that you know someone with this disability. A better informed public will be more empathetic and supportive towards people with autism.

This month is backed by the Autism Society of America which undertake a number of activities to raise awareness about autism. The Autism Society has local chapters throughout the United States which hold special events throughout April.

The ‘Puzzle Ribbon’ is the symbol for Autism Awareness and is promoted by the Autism Society as means of supporting awareness for autism. The Puzzle Ribbon may take the form of a pin attached to clothing, a fridge magnet or a sticker and are available to purchase from the Austism Society website.

The Autism Society of America also run a year long campaign through their 1 Power 4 Autism initiative, in which people are encouraged to hold events to raise awareness and support for those affected by autism.

Nearly a quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with ASD is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life. This year we want to go beyond simply promoting autism awareness to encouraging friends and collaborators to become partners in movement toward acceptance and appreciation.

Let’s embrace a new perspective. For 50 years we have worked in communities (both large and small) to ensure our actions, through our services and programming, supported all individuals living with autism. Let’s expand this work to focus on the rest of us – ensuring acceptance and inclusion in schools and communities that results in true appreciation of the unique aspects of all people. We want to get one step closer to a society where those with ASDs are truly valued for their unique talents and gifts.

    For more information on National Autism Awareness Month visit the Austism Society’s Awareness Page    

About Autism

There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis and intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.

In March 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 68 births in the United States – nearly twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125 – and almost 1 in 54 boys. The spotlight shining on autism as a result has opened opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve families facing a lifetime of supports for their children. In June 2014, researchers estimated the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism is as great as $2.4 million. The Autism Society estimates that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism. (This figure includes research, insurance costs and non-covered expenses, Medicaid waivers for autism, educational spending, housing, transportation, employment, related therapeutic services and caregiver costs.)

Know the signs: Early identification can change lives

Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. For more information on developmental milestones, visit the CDC’s “Know the Signs. Act Early” site.

Here are some signs to look for in the children in your life:

Lack of or delay in spoken language
Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
Little or no eye contact
Lack of interest in peer relationships
Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
Persistent fixation on parts of objects

 

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