News and Notes from The Johnson Center

World Autism Awareness Day 2013

JCCHD | Tue, April 02, 2013 | [Community][Events][News]

World Autism Awareness Day - April 2, 2013 As another April rolls around, it’s time to commemorate the sixth annual World Autism Awareness Day.  In 2007 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared April 2nd a special day to highlight the need to improve the lives of children and adults who have an autism spectrum disorder, so they can lead full and meaningful lives.

The occasion’s significance depends on one’s perspective. For people with autism and their caregivers, it may call attention to the need for services or the desire for more understanding, or it may be a chance to reveal the sheer size of this community. For professionals who provide clinical care to people with autism, it may mean an opportunity to rally behind those they work with and support, as well as a validation of the need for their services. Researchers might leverage it as an opportunity to call attention to the need for more support of their work and greater participation from the community. Community organizations work to communicate facts about the disorder and raise philanthropic gifts to support missions to provide funding for care, advocacy, and research.

So once again we as a community must ask ourselves what exactly it is we want people to be aware of. Do we want awareness that…

One school-aged child in 50 has an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis
• Children with autism are the victims of bullying more often than their peers
• There are significant financial and emotional challenges that many families face when they have a child with autism
• Appropriate behavioral therapies are not only important for early intervention, but are also effective for helping adolescents acquire language and social skills, and in reducing anxiety and aggression.
• The use of nutritional supplements may help some people with autism
• Health insurance companies often exclude coverage of most treatments and interventions for autism
• Some people with autism can be successful at pursuing higher education degrees with the right support in place
• When students with autism do go to college they lean toward STEM majors, a growing need in the US
• Recent research indicates autism risk is strongly influenced by both genetic and environmental factors
• Siblings of people with autism are at increased risk for stress and anxiety
• People with autism are much more likely to experience feeding issues and nutrient deficiencies
• People with autism are more likely to report abnormal GI symptoms
• People with autism are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence
• New research is giving insight into some steps that may be taken to possibly reduce the risks of autism
• Poor sleep is a common symptom in people with autism, and this may have a negative effect on performance of some tasks
• People with autism can sometimes develop language skills as late as their teenage years
• People with autism are at a greater risk of danger because of issues with elopement
• People with autism can rap, play football, fall in love, be a professor, surf, make it to the Olympic trials, become a best-selling author, be a math wiz, compete for the Miss America title, be an artist, a high school salutatorian, a blues musician, or a hero, record an album

So what is it we need people to be aware of? The answer is all of the above, but that may be too much to expect for one day. So perhaps we ask that people be aware that autism is a complex disorder with challenging obstacles to overcome, that people with autism are unique individuals with strengths and challenges worthy of respect and human rights, and that we are all touched by it in some way. Maybe that message alone will inspire more thought and attention to our community and go a long way to making every day autism awareness day.