April is Autism Awareness Month!

In thinking about the all the issues possible discuss for Autism Awareness Month, I became overwhelmed.  There are therapeutic issues, family issues, political issues and perhaps most importantly, quality of life issues that affect thousands of individuals with autism, their families and the professionals that serve them.  It seems that so much of the world "just doesn't get it" that we have such a huge and growing population living with a disorder that affects so many aspects of their own lives and the lives of those who love them. 

Current stats are 1 in 150 children diagnosed with autism.  This means that if someone hasn't already been touched by autism, it is likely that they will at some point in their lifetime.  It is my wish that the world began viewing all the children with autism as "theirs" and make a conscious effort to learn about the disorder before they are personally "touched".  I honestly believe that most of the problems faced by parents and children are due to a lack of understanding, training and compassion.  We are still seeing people in the public ridiculing the child or parent of an autistic child who is behaving unexpectedly.  We have grandparents who are not involved with the child with autism because they feel incompetent.  We have teachers who just want the child of autism out of their classrooms.  We have "professionals" taking advantage of the parents by offering unfounded "cures".  We have parents who are scared, alone and fearful of the future with no resources to give their child the therapy they so desparately need.  We have many children getting little to no services.

On the other hand, we have come a long way.  We have research indicating that early, intensive intervention is resulting in huge gains.  We have legislation moving toward mandatory coverage for autism services.  We have research on proven, effective, evidence based practices for autism. 

We, as a society, need to consider the "big picture".  These children with Autism are going to grow up.  If given appropriate, intensive, early services, many of them will become functioning, productive members of society.  Some will not and will need support for the rest of their lives.  Whether you have a loved with autism or not, it IS going to affect your life. 

My wish is that every individual begin this month tp learn more about the disorder, take responsibility for how they and those around them interact with people with autism and take some action to support "our children" so they they can live the highest quality of life possible...It's something we all deserve.

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