Since April is World Autism Month, I’ve decided to #LightItUpBlue to increase understanding and awareness of autism. We don’t just support autism one month out of the year, but all year long, every year. This month is set aside to bring awareness to those who are not familiar with autism and the challenges that children who have been diagnosed with autism face.
Each and every one of us are unique and special in our own ways. Being unique and understanding one another is important, especially today. Thankfully, knowledge is at our fingertips for just about anything you need to know. As a parent, having this knowledge at our fingertips is especially important.
Today, 1 in every 68 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism. That being said, it is highly likely that you know someone with autism. Personally, we have both friends and family who have kids of all different ages who have been diagnosed with Autism. We see their challenges daily. And while we do not have children with autism, we want to do everything we can to bring awareness and understanding for those parents who do.
My mother-in-law is a caregiver to a boy, for nearly all his life, who was diagnosed with autism at a very young age – he has a difficult time communicating, he cannot speak using words, but uses sign language and other methods of communication. He is largely misunderstood by people who are not educated on autism and I feel like this is something that we need to generate as much awareness about as possible! The more we know, the more we are able to understand and understanding is a huge step toward meeting their needs.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
- An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
- Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
- Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
- Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.
Autism refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
The “Light It Up Blue” campaign is about more than awareness -- it is about increasing understanding and acceptance of autism. This includes advocacy and support for people across the entire spectrum throughout their lives. It also includes advancing research into personalized treatments for autism and related conditions. I encourage you test your understanding of autism by taking this quiz!
Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include GI disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias. All of these issues are manageable, and we all know someone that is working to manage these every single day. The more we know about what others are faced with daily, the better we can understand where they are coming from and how we can help.
You can help make a difference too by taking the Light It Up Blue Quiz to see how much you know about autism. If you’re moved to do so after visiting AutismSpeaks.org, please show your support for and understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with autism by sharing a photo to #LightItUpBlue for Autism Awareness Month too. Also, check out Autism Speaks’ nationwide calendar of autism-friendly friendly events and activities in April.