April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. It has been observed since 1989, but was adopted by the United Nation in 2007, with a resolution containing the following four main components:
- the establishment of 2 April as WAAD
- participation of UN organizations, member states, NGOs and all private & public organizations in WAAD
- raise awareness of Autism on all levels in society
- Secretary-General of UN should deliver this message to member states and all other UN organs
You may have seen some building lit up with blue light today and wondered what it was all about. This happens more and more at this time of year now as Autism Awareness grows and is done as part of the Light It Up Blue for Autism campaign. Hopefully it helps people to think more about autism and to learn more about it for themselves.
I have to admit that at one time I was pretty ignorant as to what autism is. I had some vague and stereotypical ideas, but not a very deep understanding. That changed almost 8 years ago when our then four year old son was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. He is fairly mild and is quite high functioning compared with some, but life is still not without its challenges. Having said this, life is good and we wouldn’t change him for the world. We’ve experienced a few steep learning curves, but it’s helped us learn a lot about ourselves as well.
There are lots of good resources out there. Any decent search engine will take you to any number you want. I’m still no expert, but I have a better grasp of things than I did eight years ago. The only advice that I’d give any parent facing a diagnosis of ASD for a child of theirs is not to retreat into denial. Take the diagnosis and run with it. Find out as much as you can. Get to know other parents in similar situations. Find out what supports are available. We decided early on that, as devastating as it seemed at the time, the diagnosis wasn’t going away any time soon, so we had to face it and get on with dealing with it. In the end any type of denial only harms the child. Having a child with autism doesn’t mean the end to your dreams for your life. It just means that you get to discover some new ones.
While searching for some autism links today I came across 46 Random Facts about Autism. You can check out the list for yourself, but I’ll share ten of them with you:
- Approximately 67 million people worldwide are affected by autism.
- There is no blood test, no scan, and no image that can detect autism. Diagnosis relies on behavioral observation and screening.
- Autism is more common than childhood cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
- Researchers recommend autistic testing if a baby doesn’t babble or coo by 12 months, doesn’t point or wave by 12 months, doesn’t say single words by 16 months, doesn’t say two-word phrases by 24 months, or loses previously acquired language or social skills at any age.
- In families with one autistic child, the risk of having a second child with the disorder is approximately 5%, or one in 20. This is greater than the risk for the general population.
- Scholars and parents debate whether autism is a disability or whether it should be considered merely a different kind of personality.
- Divorce rates are high in families with an autistic child. Researchers suggest reducing stress by ensuring an autistic child receives appropriate health care, setting aside time for a spouse, and creating a support system with other families of children with autism.
- From the Greek autos meaning “self,” autism literally means “alone.
- Many scholars believe autism is a combination of genetic vulnerability that is triggered by some kind of social or toxic influence.
- More and more doctors and researchers are referring to autism as autisms, because each child’s case is different, as are each child’s causes and treatments.