Some bloom easily and on time
Others have a harder time – don’t give up hope
Keep telling them how much you love them, and that they will bloom
Soon, they, too, will turn into such beautiful blossoms
As to take your breath away
Like I mentioned in my previous post, today is World Autism Awareness Day (hope you’re wearing blue). To help bring into focus the urgent need for each of us to be aware of what the word ‘autism’ means, here are some hard facts** about it.
- Is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).
- Now affects 1 in 110 children (1 in 70 boys).
- Is growing at an almost epidemic rate.
- What causes it? We don’t know definitively yet.
- Is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
- A small number of cases can be linked to genetic disorders, as well as exposure to environmental agents (both infectious and chemical ones) during pregnancy.
- When first studied (in 1943 by a psychiatrist called Dr. Leo Kanner), it was believed to be caused by cold and unloving mothers.
- Has no medical detection or cure.
It is too close to home for each of us — now than ever. So, what are you going to do to spread awareness about it?
Please visit the web site Light It Up Blue for creative ideas on how you can raise autism awareness. If none of the ideas suggested seems feasible with your lifestyle, then how about doing something very simple and manageable, as early as today?
- If you’re a teacher, take a few minutes to discuss autism with your class.
- If you know a child who has been diagnosed with autism, spend some time today talking to his/her parents. Are you afraid that your interest may be construed as an invasion of privacy? In my experience, not all parents tending to a child with special needs may openly discuss their experiences with general public, but almost all of them are willing to talk about the challenges they face on a one-on-one basis — if only in the hope that someone else might benefit from what they learned, without having to reinvent the wheel.
- If you work at an office, bring up this topic at the proverbial water cooler.
- If you’re a doctor, post flyers, with information about autism, around your office. A parent who brings his child in for a regular checkup may go back home, a little more aware, a little more informed about this spectrum of disorders.
- If you happen to drive a bus, then why not initiate a conversation over the intercom with your regular passengers?
- If you’re part of a book club, then pitch books like “So B. It” or “Seriously Weird” for your next month’s reading material.
- If your child comes home from school saying that the teachers were all wearing blue shirts that had the autism logo on it, and asks what that word means, sit down and discuss what you know with her.
These are only some of several ways in which you could do your part. And your involvement doesn’t have to stop after today. Any time you see an opportunity, grab it, and spread the facts about autism.
If the chain of awareness that you started ends up getting even one child diagnosed early, will that not be time well spent? Won’t the few times that you had to step out of your comfort zone, initiating the conversation, feel that much more rewarding?
Who knows when it will be our turn to feel like we are standing behind a one-way glass, looking out at people and wishing that they were aware of what we are going through?
** – The facts about autism have been gleaned from the web site: Autism Speaks. Please go to this site to learn about the Red Flags (Early Signs) of Autism. The sooner a child at risk is evaluated, the better, so s/he could receive the needed intervention – in terms of treatment and therapies – and support.