Wednesday, April 1, 2009
All April Fools jokes aside--there is something serious and close to any parent's heart that begins today: Autism Awareness Month. Many readers of this blog have children under 5 so you, like me, must have noticed how autism is in the news more and more these days. It's not just your imagination: The prevalence of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in 1 out of 150 kids in the U.S. For reasons that are still unknown, these disorders affect four times as many boys as girls. Clearly indicating the severity of the situation: The Center for Disease Control recently declared autism a "national public health crisis" whose cause and cure remain "unknown."
Anybody who reads anything--from the Times to Us Magazine--knows the controversy the mere uttering of the word "autism" can catalyze. From Jenny McCarthy claiming she has "cured" her son's autism, to debate about the propriety of vaccinations, to the hushed tones about over-diagnoses as a sort of "catch-all"--the topic is rife with hullabalo and polemic. But more information is never a bad thing, right? And more information takes more research; which requires more public money; which requires more awareness.
Want to learn more? Tomorrow happens to be World Autism Awareness Day. Find out more here. Want to support with a little bit of retail therapy? Check out the ever-growing list of stores that have pledged support to the cause, and also take a look at this Judith Ripka pendant which benefits Autism Speaks (the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization). Want to be more involved, plan a fundraiser, or attend a fundraiser? See here for more information.
The logo for Autism Speaks is a puzzle piece. The disorder truly is still a puzzle and if you don't know somebody yet who has autism, the odds are good that you will sometime soon. Autism is a mystery we can begin solving in our lifetimes. Anything you can do helps.