World Autism Awareness Day 2018

Each year, autism spectrum disorder is being diagnosed at a higher rate.

Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that autism has been one of the most pervasive developmental disorders in the United States. Autism now affects 1 in 68 children. This doesn’t necessarily mean that autism is becoming more common, just that more people are becoming aware of the signs and are being diagnosed at an earlier age. This early diagnosis is crucial because the younger an individual is diagnosed, the earlier they can receive help. Although there’s no definite cure, therapy, medication, and the parent’s support are able to aid the individual in becoming more easily adjusted.

Organizations like Autism Speaks work to support autistic individuals and their families

There are many organizations that do amazing research, work to raise awareness, and help in supporting families with autistic children; Autism Speaks is one of the largest of these organizations. Autism Speaks helps immensely with educating the families of autistic kids. According to their website, supporting an autistic child costs a family $60,000 a year on average.

Their organization helps in a number of ways:

  • They provide M-CHAT-R screening tests to catch early signs of autism and lead to early diagnosis
  • They also provide treatment programs that include therapy, medication, and behavioral analysis

Autism Speaks has already committed approximately $200 million to research:

  • It has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization
  • In 2005, Autism Speaks committed $8.3 million to fund 41 pilot studies, 21 doctoral fellowships, as well as three large collaborative programs: the NAAR Autism Genome Project, the High-Risk Baby Siblings Research Project, and the Autism Tissue Program

co-chairs-denise-hannink-and-michelle-rodriguez-along-with-alpha-xi-delta-at-the-startlineThere are many plausible factors that scientists conclude, such as genes (autism sometimes, but not always, runs in the family), having older parents, and numerous others. It’s likely that what causes autism is a combination of these factors. Autism is a spectrum of disorders and includes a variety of symptoms, therefore no two people are alike. This is why research is so crucial; as of now we have limited knowledge as to what actually causes autism.

Local opportunities to raise awareness for autism spectrum disorder

Autism Speaks is a great organization to get involved with because it recognizes the need of the individual and of the many. Not only can you donate, but you can also walk in one of their annual fundraising initiatives nearest to you. These walks support scientific research, family services, a sense of community, and promote awareness.

Another great organization is the Autism Society which is located locally in Tidewater, Virginia. They are always looking for volunteers to help with the fundraising and outreach events they host.

Helping those with autism begins with awareness. The more we learn about autism, the better equipped we’ll be to understand, accommodate, and relate to those who have it. Now more than ever is inclusivity important in our communities.

Chloe Kasper is a Staff Writer for The Daily Runner.