April is autism awareness month, dedicated to the sharing of information people should take the effort to pay attention.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2012 annual autism report, over the last year the prevalence of autism in the United States has risen from 1 in 68 to 1 in 54 children. When research is paired with public awareness and support, families with autistic children can get the help they need.
“Autism has not impacted me personally, but I find it terrifying it has increased over the past three years,” said senior social work major Connie Falconer. “We need to look closer at our food in our houses.”
UC Davis MIND Institute conducts studies such as the Autism Phenome Project in an effort to study children 2 to 3 years old. Data gathered from children with autism are compared to children of typical development.
The APP is a longitudinal study with families returning for follow-up evaluations for several years, according to the UC Davis website.
Many individuals show their support through wearing a blue sash and some office buildings and college campuses across the country even dawn blue lights as a tribute.
“Autism awareness is important for a variety of reasons,” said alumna Senior Behavioral Therapist at Center for Autism and Related Disorders Lisa Peterson. “The main one I can think of is awareness is often the first and most beneficial step taken towards early intervention. When it comes to receiving an early diagnosis, every single day makes a difference.”
The key to autism awareness is to find the early signs, so as to help with treatment. Many parents have mixed emotions when first discovering their child has autism. Most first discovery stories come as a shock.
“Many people with children with autism state they don’t want awareness, they want acceptance,” said Cynthia Well Ejiogu, whose son has autism. “This dream is hard to live with. Autism has cost me a normal life, my son a normal life, my marriage and how I will live my retirement, but I would not trade my guy for anything.”
Children who struggle with autism not only affects them but their families. Autism awareness month is not about parading around wearing a sash and telling your friends you donated to a cause. It is about real understanding of a problem, which can be slowly fixed.
“Behavioral therapy will work wonders when administered to a child at the age of two because it works with the child’s brain plasticity,” Peterson said.
With early detection a child can be placed in a school where behavioral therapy is a constant activity, in order to condition these children to perform simple tasks we take for granted in our lives.
“To attack gives parents the idea of control in a situation where there is none. You can get therapy for your child, the younger the better,” Ejiogu said.
A lot of good advice is all around us, and as people of this world we need to take our blinders off, look at the needs of people around us and support them. Autism awareness is all about support, so lets give it.