April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month in many countries around the world. Different people will choose to acknowledge the month if different ways. But a good way to support, advocate for and be an ally to autistic people is to try to better understand the condition.

Here are 10 things you may find interesting or useful to know for Autism Awareness and Acceptance.

Stimming and Flapping are OK!

Child in a pink jacket and blue gloves standing with arms outstretched against a moody sky during Autism Awareness Month.
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It’s an outdated notion that autistic kids who flap, rock, or find other ways of “stimming” must be stopped. Autistics do this often because of a sensory need and different interoception experience.

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Learn more: Hand Flapping, Stimming and Autism

A Shutdown is not the same as a Meltdown

A person with autism sitting inside a cafe, leaning forward with their head resting on their hand, seen through a glass window with reflections during Autism Awareness Month.
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You may have heard of a child having a meltdown. Have you heard of an autistic shutdown? It’s a bit different, but parents should try to support their kids as best they can.

Learn more: Autistic Shutdowns

High Correlation between Autism and Trans

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For reasons not fully understood, there is an overlap between the autistic population and people who identify as trans.

Learn more: Autism and Trans Correlation

More than 30% Have Seizures or Epilepsy

A human brain floating against a gradient blue and purple background for Autism Awareness Month.
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Another phenomena not fully understood is the connection between autism and epilepsy. Autistic people are much more likely to experience a seizure–as many as a third experience at least one in their lifetime. That is much higher than the general population.

Learn more: The Autism Epilepsy Connection: My Son’s Brain Surgery

Some Autistics do Scripting and Echolalia

A hand making a pointing gesture against a blurred background for Autism Awareness Month.
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Echolalia (repeating what you say) and scripting (repeating a “script” or sometimes skywriting with a finger) are often misunderstood as deliberate and purposely annoying. They’re not. We now know that for some autistics, this is how they are communicating.

Learn more: What are Echolalia and Autistic Scripting?

Liking Something Doesn’t Mean Age Inappropriate

Black vintage steam locomotive on display under a clear blue sky in honor of Autism Awareness Month.
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If an autistic adult has interests that seem childish or babyish to you, I’d invite you to check your internal biases. There’s nothing inappropriate about liking things, and many adults enjoy Disney and other things aimed at children.

Read: What are Age-Appropriate Interests for a Developmentally Disabled or Autistic Adult?

They may need a sensory diet.

Child with autism playing with water spraying from a fountain during Autism Awareness Month.
Image Credit: ADayInOurShoes

An autistic child may benefit from being offered sensory play opportunities throughout the day. It may enable them to better focus on tasks like schoolwork.

Read: What is a Sensory Diet? (Examples)

Visual Schedules may help with transitions.

Illustration of children's daily routine activities, including getting dressed, brushing teeth, showering, making the bed, doing schoolwork, taking a bath, painting, and going to school in recognition of
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When autistic children can plan and visualize what is going to happen next, that may help with transitions to a new or different activity. Using visual schedules is very common in classrooms.

Go: 44 Free Visual Schedule Templates and Visual Pictures for Autism

They may laugh inappropriately.

Woman laughing in the rain outdoors during Autism Awareness Month.
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Autistic people may laugh at odd times or inappropriate times. This is not usually due to defiance or indifference, but is a cognitive processing or emotional regulation issue.

Read: Autism and Inappropriate Laughter

Autistic Children need extra Pretend Play.

A young child expressing surprise while playing with a toy dinosaur and a box of kinetic sand indoors during Autism Awareness Month.
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Due to neurological differences, autistic children often struggle to grasp the concept of “pretend play.” Extra opportunities should be provided, because pretend play is a building block for other skills later in life.

To learn more: Autism and Pretend Play

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