April is Autism Awareness Month, and today April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day.
Each April 2, Autism Speaks celebrates Light It Up Blue along with the international autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. Light It Up Blue is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism. In honor of this historic day, many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores are among the hundreds of thousands of homes and communities that take part to Light It Up Blue.
Everybody remembers the movie Rain Man and from that day Dustin Hoffman and his numbers skills have been our example of a person living with Autism.
What exactly is Autism is what most people have been asking over the last few years. Thanks to celebrities like Holly Robinson Pete, Sherrie Shepherd and Toni Braxton the blue light has shown on this disorder and help is being provided to families who are living with children with Autism.
Here is some great background information on the disorder for reference from WebMD
What is autism?
Autism is a brain disorder that often makes it hard to communicate with and relate to others. With autism, the different areas of the brain fail to work together.
Most people with autism will always have some trouble relating to others. But early diagnosis and treatment have helped more and more people who have autism to reach their full potential.
What causes autism?
Autism tends to run in families, so experts think it may be something that you inherit. Scientists are trying to find out exactly which genes may be responsible for passing down autism in families.
Other studies are looking at whether autism can be caused by other medical problems or by something in your child’s surroundings.
Some people think that childhood vaccines cause autism, especially the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine. But studies have not shown this to be true. It’s important to make sure that your child gets all childhood vaccines. They help keep your child from getting serious diseases that can cause harm or even death.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms almost always start before a child is 3 years old. Usually, parents first notice that their toddler has not started talking yet and is not acting like other children the same age. But it is not unusual for a child to start to talk at the same time as other children the same age, then lose his or her language skills.
Symptoms of autism include:
- A delay in learning to talk, or not talking at all. A child may seem to be deaf, even though hearing tests are normal.
- Repeated and overused types of behavior, interests, and play. Examples include repeated body rocking, unusual attachments to objects, and getting very upset when routines change.
- There is no "typical" person with autism. People can have many different kinds of behaviors, from mild to severe. Parents often say that their child with autism prefers to play alone and does not make eye contact with other people.
- Many children have below-normal intelligence.
- Teenagers often become depressed and have a lot of anxiety, especially if they have average or above-average intelligence.
- Some children get a seizure disorder such as epilepsy by their teen years.
How is autism diagnosed?
There are guidelines your doctor will use to see if your child has symptoms of autism. The guidelines put symptoms into three categories:
- Social interactions and relationships. For example, a child may have trouble making eye contact. People with autism may have a hard time understanding someone else’s feelings, such as pain or sadness.
- Verbal and nonverbal communication. For example, a child may never speak. Or he or she may often repeat a certain phrase over and over.
- Limited interests in activities or play. For example, younger children often focus on parts of toys rather than playing with the whole toy. Older children and adults may be fascinated by certain topics, like trading cards or license plates.
This month join me and Autism Speaks and spread the word about Autism.
Until next time...