April Is Autism Awareness Month

autismIn a very short period of time, autism has gone from being a rare and poorly understood disorder (for years “cold mothers” were believed to be the cause) to one that has gained international attention and rigorous study.

It used to be thought to strike approximately 1 out of every 5,000 kids. Today, partially due to better reporting and diagnosis, the Centers for Disease Control place the incidence at 1 in every 88 kids in the U.S.A. Other studies have found the prevalence to be higher. One study in South Korea, which was funded by Autism Speaks, found it to be an astonishing 1 in 38.

But the news is not all bad. All of this much needed attention is paying off big time. In just the past 12 months, we have learned much about this spectrum of disorders which we have all become familiar with. We now know, for example, much more about what causes it and how to treat it.

This excellent article, written by Geraldine Dawson of Autism Speaks and originally published by Huff Post*, shines a light on new and promising information we have gained in just one year’s time. Take a look and pass it on:

Here are ten important things we’ve learned about ASD in the past twelve months that not only hold interest for researchers and clinicians, but also offer new insights and actionable information for parents:

1. High-quality early intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can do more than improve behaviors, it can improve brain function. Read more.

2. Being nonverbal at age 4 does NOT mean children with autism will never speak. Research shows that most will, in fact, learn to use words, and nearly half will learn to speak fluently. Read more.

3. Though autism tends to be life long, some children with ASD make so much progress that they no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism. High quality early-intervention may be key. Read more.

4. Many younger siblings of children with ASD have developmental delays and symptoms that fall short of an autism diagnosis, but still warrant early intervention. Read more.

5. Research confirms what parents have been saying about wandering and bolting by children with autism: It’s common, it’s scary, and it doesn’t result from careless parenting. Read more.

6. Prenatal folic acid, taken in the weeks before and after a woman becomes pregnant, may reduce the risk of autism. Here’s the story.

7. One of the best ways to promote social skills in grade-schoolers with autism is to teach their classmates how to befriend a person with developmental disabilities. Read more.

8. Researchers can detect presymptom markers of autism as early as 6 months — a discovery that may lead to earlier intervention to improve outcomes. Read more.

9. The first medicines for treating autism’s core symptoms are showing promise in early clinical trials.Read more.

10. Investors and product developers respond to a call to develop products and services to address the unmet needs of the autism community. Read more.

This World Autism Awareness Day and throughout April Autism Awareness Month, as we celebrate the contributions of people with autism to our lives, it’s important that we also recognize autism as a public health crisis in this country that demands a commensurate response. Quite simply, we need a national action plan for autism, a coordinated approach to funding research and critical services for people with autism across their lifespan.

We must do more to help the millions of people living with autism today maximize their potential and lead fulfilling lives. They and their families — our friends, relatives and neighbors — deserve nothing less.

* To read Dawson’s complete article, click here.



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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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