Putting Together The Pieces: April is Autism Awareness Month
By, Communities Digital News
SAN DIEGO,: Wear blue in April to promote National Autism Awareness Month. With the underlying theme of promoting awareness and acceptance, this year’s theme is to encourage friends and collaborators to become partners in a movement which fosters acceptance and appreciation, according to the Autism Society.
“Wanting to be free. Wanting to be me. Trying to make people see. And accept the real me.”
Autism Month is a great opportunity for members of the legislative, medical, healthcare, social services, educational, developmental disabilities communities combined with families, patients, and concerned individuals to gather across America in support of Autism.
Who is affected by autism?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD):
- Persons on the Autism spectrum increased 289% over the past 10 years.
- ASD is present in all socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups, and is 4.5 times more common in boys.
- Approximately 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability, based on statistics from 2006-2008.
What is autism?
Autism is a classification of developmental disability which affects social skills, speech, learning ability, reasoning, non-verbal communication, and overall human interaction. Motor skills and sensory sensitivities might also be impacted.
There are varying degrees of autism which are individual in nature.
In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association identified the variety in Autism diagnoses and symptoms creating the inclusive name Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to Autism Speaks.
This new umbrella term includes autism disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified and Asperger syndrome.
“Our experiences are all unique. Regardless, I do believe that it is important to find the beautiful. Recognize that there is bad, there is ugly, there is disrespect, there is ignorance and there are meltdowns.
Those things are inevitable. But there is also good.” -Erin McKinney
CDC and HHS working together
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Health and Human Services funded the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) to embark on a multistate research project (AZ, AK, CO, GA, MD, MI, NJ, NC, SC, UT, WIS), to better understand the dynamics of autism spectrum disorder, and the following are key findings published in their 2016 report, Community Report of Autism:
The estimated percentage of children identified with ASD remains high, but did not change significantly between 2010 and 2012.
It is too soon to tell if the percentage of children identified with ASD over time is stabilizing.
Autism – Need to Knows
Children identified with ASD are not receiving comprehensive developmental evaluations as early as they could be.
Black and Hispanic children are less likely to be identified with ASD. Those who are identified with ASD receive comprehensive developmental evaluations later than white children.
Schools should play a vital role in evaluating and serving children with ASD.
It is recommended that young children are initially evaluated for developmental delays and disabilities during regular check-ups with the doctor beginning at age 9 months and continuing through age 30 months.
Any individual diagnosed with ASD will be challenged throughout their lives. Depending on where they are placed on the spectrum, the impact on the family is also undeniable as children sometimes require full-time care.
There is no doubt that the cost of caring for and enabling independence on behalf of those with ASD will continue to have a major impact on America as a whole. The annual cost of caring for children (from birth to age 17) in the U.S. who have ASD is estimated to be between approximately $11.5 billion up to $60.9 billion in direct and indirect costs.
Those staggering numbers alone create a critical need for research dollars to determine root causes of ASD and work toward prevention.
Autism Awareness Month
By celebrating Autism Month, and bringing awareness of the disorder to the forefront in households across the US, we realize that ASD is alarmingly prevalent and has trended in growing numbers.
Collectively we are able to create pathways for those with ASD to continue to succeed and thrive into adulthood and beyond, embracing their individuality and abilities with acceptance and appreciation while being free from stigma.
Don’t forget to wear blue and show support!
“I might hit developmental and societal milestones in a different order
than my peers, but I am able to accomplish these small victories on my own
time.” -Haley Moss
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