There are approximately 3.5 million people living with autism in the United States, affecting about 1 in every 68 births. The rate in 2004 was roughly 1 in every 125 births, showing that the occurrence rate has doubled since then. As more and more American families are being affected, the nation has to decide how to best service these families and their needs.
Autism Awareness Month hopes to increase the 4 A’s and an I of Autism; Awareness, Action, Acceptance, Appreciation and Inclusion. One of the driving reasons for wanting these five things is to make them feel human and a part of society. This is important, because legislation that affects their lives is being written right now by people that don’t know much about this disorder. They don’t have the proper background to make informed decisions, which this month is trying to change.
The symptoms of autism usually become prominent in ages 2 to 6 years. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has five behaviors that parents should watch for and use as indicators for further evaluation.
- Does not babble or coo by 12 months
- Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
- Does not say single words by 16 months
- Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
- Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age
Having even 1 or 2 of these symptoms is not a diagnosis. You need to bring your child to a panel of specialists that know more about the disorder and how to diagnose it. These are just behaviors that suggest you should do this.
There is for no for certain cause for autism at the moment. The main things that are thought to play apart in the development in autism are genetics, epigenetics (gene folding due to a shifting environment) or a possible comorbidity with other genetic diseases. It used to be thought that it developed after a traumatic event in their childhood, but that has been disproven. It is also currently thought that certain immunizations cause autism to develop, but numerous epidemiological studies have disproved that belief.
MSUM is having an Autism Documentary and Panel night on campus to help raise awareness. It will be in Langseth 104 at 7pm this Monday April 7th. They will be a film followed by a panel for any questions.
One way that you can show your support for this month is by wearing the unrecognizable puzzle ribbon. The Autism Society sells the ribbons here and the proceeds go towards research and aid. If someone approaches you, don’t turn them away. Take this moment to educate them. If you are unsure of something, say so instead of spreading false information.