Thursday, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day. On that day, hundreds of thousands of people and communities from all around the world join together with Autism Speaks, one of the largest Autism Awareness Organizations, to bring awareness through a campaign known as Light It Up Blue. Sign up to have your name added to the support list, and to receive a packet of information!
Through this effort, and many others, most people today have heard of Autism. Many know what Autism is, but for those of you who may not, here is a really informal definition: Autism is a hidden disability, a neurological disorder that causes the affected person to think differently, act differently and process things differently, than the average bear. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that it’s symptoms often manifest themselves differently from person to person. You may have heard the saying, “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.”. It is absolutely true.
The latest CDC findings suggest 1 in 68 children will receive an Autism diagnosis by the age of 8. Today, there are an estimated 2,000,000 people living with Autism in the US, many doing so without the supports they need to live successful and independent lives – this number does not include those diagnosed with Aspergers (a form of Autism), PDD or any other spectrum disorders. For the full CDC report, go here.
There are other reasons, too. You might care because..
- Humans tend to be afraid of what is not understood. Fear creates misunderstandings and stigmas – both of which are easily negated with education. Knowledge is power!
- Improving understanding of Autism will improve every aspect of a person with Autism’s life.
- Removing stigmas associated will improve the chances of early diagnosis and earlier support.
- Educating will lower the incidents of bullying.
- Gaining acceptance helps to ensure that those with Autism have access to the right supports.
- Gaining acceptance also improves employment prospects for adults in the autistic community, both directly or indirectly.
- Because your support will help to pave the way for further education reform for our Special Needs youth – they have a lot to give to the world.
For more information on Light it Up Blue or Autism, check out the Autism Speaks website.