News and Notes from The Johnson Center

World Autism Day 2014 - What Can I Do?

JCCHD | Wed, April 02, 2014 | [Autism Treatment][Community][Events][News][Research]

Another World Autism Day has come around, and many organizations are sharing different ways to promote awareness. You may have been asked to Light It Up Blue, place a badge on your Facebook page asking for a better world for autism, attend a United Nations-sponsored event, or become a youth ambassador

However you choose to honor this day, or the entire month of April as Autism Awareness Month, it is apparent that with each year that passes, more and more people are getting involved in these efforts. Now that the CDC has confirmed that 1 in 68 people under the age of 21 is diagnosed with autism (1 in 42 boys), those individuals, their families, teachers, and friends all have a stake in lending a voice and spreading the word about the resources, accomplishments, and needs of this community.

Accomplishments are many.  Some resources are available.  And the needs…well, there are many—too many to list here. But there is one pressing need that every single person can help with, and if they do, they can make a great contribution to this entire community.

The autism community needs facts. We need solid information: information on best practices, on effective supports and interventions, on education, and on treatments for common co-morbid conditions. And this information will come from research.

People are often disinterested in research because it seems so foreign and removed from their day-to-day experiences. But there is research that is relevant and meaningful to every person who has autism, and every person who works with or cares for them. 

There are many challenges to doing this work and finding these answers.  The first challenge we can all easily identify is funding. And if you are someone with an extra few dollars in your pocket that you can contribute to funding research, then please do so. Most of us, particularly those of us who are already supporting someone with autism, don’t have much spare change to give. But that does not mean we can’t contribute.

Research relies on people—people with autism AND people who do not have autism. Adults and children are needed, and the information that can be gathered from anyone and everyone is crucial to finding out how to identify children with autism as soon as possible so they can get the help they need, and to inform what help is needed for people of all ages.

So this year, our hope is that once you are aware, you act. Get involved with research. If you can, participate in a research study. Children who do not have autism are crucial to quality research studies in order to provide a comparison group. Share information about studies. Recruit friends and family to participate in research. Create a surge of momentum that will provide the information researchers need to answer questions that will improve the lives of people with autism now and for generations to come.