April 2nd, in case you missed it, was World Autism Awareness Day. You probably know at least one individual who has or is family with someone who has Autism. In case you don’t, let’s look at the statistics: 1/88 kids are diagnosed with some form of Autism, and individuals affected by autism are increasing at a rate of at least 10% annually. While there isn’t any definitive answers to what causes Autism, some things may be environment and genetics, scientists believe. If it’s not in your family or you’ve not directly affected by any of the Autism family disorders, you may not see the need to know about it or care about it. However, if you have kids, there’s a good chance your kids will meet someone their age with Autism sooner or later, or they’ll ask you about it when you meet a family in the supermarket or at a restaurant.
Let’s take care of the details before we move onto the future of Autism. First, it’s not something you can catch, and it’s not something that makes anyone a lesser person. Essentially, it is caused by some type of failure in the brain during development. When the brain doesn’t properly develop, other areas of our lives and bodies are affected, and in the case of Autism, that may include social or verbal challenges and sometimes physical differences as well. However, there are lots of people who have some type of Autism that are very successful and talented.
There’s a lot more that needs to be learned. Just like Aids, cancers and other health issues, there are still tons that need to be learned and discovered about what Autism is, how it develops and what we can do to treat or help individuals with Autism. If you’re a concerned parent, you can take this online test to determine risks and likelihood of having some form of Autism. Also, talk with your doctor about your concerns, don’t just assume the worst.
Whether or not you’re personally affected by Autism, there’s lots you can do. At the Autism Speaks website, there are family services, ways to get involved in advocacy and government awareness, walks you can join, apps you can use, and of course you can donate too. One of my other favorite organizations is Easter Seals, who helps individuals and families with all kinds of disabilities.
Together we can support and find answers to Autism, what will you do?