National Autism Awareness Month is recognized during the month of April. Since its inception in 1970, National Autism Awareness Month is a vehicle used to bring awareness to the increasing number of children and families who are impacted by autism. National Autism Awareness Month is utilized to educate on the signs and interventions for autism and to promote advocacy for autism research and interventions.
In the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published on March 28, 2014 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability defined by diagnostic criteria that include deficits in social communication and social interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.1 Based on 2010 data submitted in the report gathered from 11 states in the U.S,
- 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with ASD
- 1 in 42 boys are diagnosed
- 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed
- The median age of earliest known ASD diagnosis was 53 months of age
- Non-Hispanic white children were approximately 30% more likely to be identified with ASD than Non-Hispanic black children and 50% more likely to be identified with ASD than Hispanic children. 1
Oftentimes, people associate autism with mental retardation. There are a lot of myths and misperceptions centered around what a person with autism looks like. Some of the signs a person with autism might exhibit are:
- not respond to their name by 12 months of age,
- not pointing at objects to show interest by 14 months of age,
- not play “pretend” games by 18 months of age,
- avoid eye contact and want to be alone,
- have delayed speech and language skills,
- repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia),
- give unrelated answers to questions,
- get upset by minor changes,
- have obsessive interests,
- flap hands, rock their body, or spin in circles,
- or have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel.2
Here is an excellent YouTube video created by Autism Speaks titled “My Name is David”. It provides great insight into autism. https://youtu.be/C_O0vRTkaaY
How can you get involved? First, become more aware of what autism is and how it impacts the lives of children and families. Secondly, move to advocacy by joining efforts to raise funds for autism research and treatment development. Lastly, get an assessment for your child or love one who may be exhibiting any of the aforementioned signs. Get involved. Raise awareness, educate, and advocate.
In recognition of National Autism Month, Bald, Bearded, & Blessed is featuring an autism puzzle piece shirt. Order your shirt today at http://www.baldbeardedblessed.com.
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