Did you know?
- 1 in 34 boys identified with autism (Boys are 4x more likely to be diagnosed than girls.)
- 1 in 144 girls identified with autism. This is likely because they don’t exhibit the same characteristics outwardly, therefore, girls are often diagnosed at a later age.
- Autism is estimated to affect more than 3 million individuals in the U.S.
- Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
- Minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often.
- Early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development and deliver benefits across the lifespan.
- There is no medical detection for autism.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
According to the Autism Society, Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder which typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation.
Autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children and every person with an autism diagnosis has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. It is often referred to as a spectrum disorder because every person who is diagnosed is uniquely different, just like each of us. Depending on the needs of the individual with ASD, support services and intervention plans can vary greatly.
How Royal Cup is choosing to celebrate differences during National Autism Acceptance Month
Most people know Royal Cup because we bring them the delicious coffee they love, but that isn’t our only priority. Every year, we look for opportunities to use our success and influence to make the world a better place. This often takes the form of sustainability practices, for example, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. That includes neurodiversity.
We partnered with an organization called United Ability. Under the umbrella of United Way, this organization is dedicated to furthering the success of neurodiverse individuals.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham partners with United Ability to make Project SEARCH possible, so James and Jeffrey’s first rotation was with UAB. Royal Cup was proud to host them for their second internship rotation and was especially honored to be the first local business in Birmingham to take part in Project SEARCH’s internships.
This project brings neurodiverse young adults into local businesses with tours, internships, and other opportunities. The goal is to forge a better connection between the neurodiverse community and local businesses and to help individuals transition from high school into the workforce.
Through this program, we had the great pleasure of meeting James and Jeffrey. These two exceptional young men are recent high school graduates who were completing a one-year internship as part of Project SEARCH. This one-year internship involves several rotations in local businesses. These rotations function just like any other internship: the interns learn to perform a variety of tasks and gain knowledge about the company by engaging in new hire orientation and working together with our employees. This opportunity was a great way to learn the ins and outs of how a business operates.
James and Jeffrey were fantastic workers with determination and wide-eyed smiles. They were thrilled to be a part of a critical project for a key customer and we would challenge anyone who thinks they could beat the record for how quickly and efficiently they built the hundreds of retail boxes!
During their time with us, they did a terrific job with a wide variety of projects throughout our Birmingham facility. Our time with James and Jeffrey was truly an honor and a wonderful experience for us all. They were a tremendous help throughout the facility, and we can say without a doubt that they were a valuable part of the Royal Cup team!
Continuing to Learn
How can we continue to support and lift up this community? The first step is learning as much as we can! Gena Hyatt, our Employee Relations Manager, has an abundance of knowledge that she has graciously shared with us. We have already learned so much from her and look forward to further developing our knowledge so that we may continue to make a positive impact where we can. Here is some of the information she has conveyed:
A group of visionary parents whose children were diagnosed with autism founded The Autism Society in 1965 to help educate communities and provide the families much needed support and referral services. National Autism Awareness Month was brought to light by The Autism Society to advocate for advanced policies and to foster inclusion and belonging for everyone.
As with the support services and therapies, the terminology continues to also become more progressive. The Autism Society’s ‘Celebrate Differences’ campaign is designed to focus on providing information and enhance opportunities and resources for the autism community and the caregivers who support them. Bringing attention to a cause is an important step, but even more so the goal should be to elevate the world’s consciousness.
“While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life,” says Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. He continues to quote “As many individuals and families affected by autism know, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system. Autism community advocates across the country have a long-standing history of using the term “acceptance” as a means of more fully integrating the 1 in every 54 Americans living with autism into our social fabric.”
Characteristics & Diagnosis
Some characteristics of ASD might present as, but are not limited to:
- Extreme interest in a specific topic or items
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Restricted or repetitive behaviors, sometimes used as self-regulating techniques
- Prefers solitary play rather than engaging with others
- Difficulty adapting to changes in routine
- Preference for predictable, structured play over make-believe play
- Difficulty with social communication interaction and following cues
- Non-verbal, flat or monotonous speech
- Hypersensitivity to sounds, smells, tastes, and other senses
It is not uncommon that along with the term “disorder” comes with what could be perceived as only negative characteristics. To the contrary, there are many positive attributes that individuals with ASD possess and can ultimately contribute to what makes them an incredibly valuable employee.
Some other characteristics of ASD might present as, but are not limited to:
- Methodical and analytical approaches to problem solving and repetition
- Creative, deep focus, and attention to detail
- Excellent accuracy and concentration skills
- Tenacity and resilience
- Integrity – honesty, loyalty, and commitment
- Accepting of others unique qualities
Intervention & Support
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the most researched and commonly used behavioral interventions for autism. ABA therapy is a flexible treatment that can be adapted to meet the unique needs of every person to increase language and communication skills and decrease problem behaviors.
Many children affected by autism also benefit from other interventions such as speech and occupational therapy. Parents, caregivers, and siblings of autistic children and autistic adults can benefit from support and respite care services.
To learn more about Royal Cup and our mission to give back to the community, check out our sustainability efforts and more.