April is Autism Awareness Month
As many of you probably already know, April is recognized as Autism Awareness Month. As a therapist who has been working for several years with children diagnosed with autism, I wanted to give special attention to the disorder that affects so many people we love. So, in an attempt to give autism the awareness it absolutely needs, I have chosen to write a post filled with an array of informational resources for both therapists and parents dealing daily with autism.
The Autism Speaks Web site defines autism as:
“...a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Today, 1 in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.”
The definition continues on and discusses the history of the first diagnosis, which dates back to 1943 by Dr. Leo Kanner at Johns Hopkins Hospital. It then goes on to discuss the importance of early intervention services, which should begin as soon as a diagnosis is given and for some may be as young as 6 months old. In addition to the valuable factual information provided on the website, there are also numerous links to community resources, treatment and therapy options, the legal rights of individuals with autism and how autism can affect people into their teenage and adult years.
The site also has a section completely dedicated to “Community”, which addresses the many ways people can get involved and find resources within their area as well as beyond. Autism Speaks also addresses the “Science” behind autism and tackles the research issues that are currently being conducted throughout the world regarding the causes and hopeful cures for this widespread disorder. Below is a list of additional websites and resources all devoted to autism education and awareness:
- The Autism Society of America Web site is similar to one at Autism Speaks and includes variety of valuable and informative resources.
- AutismWeb is a parent’s guide to autism and PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder).
- The Autism Research Institute (ARI) is a non-profit organization established in 1967 that devotes itself to the “triggers of autism” and “methods of treating and diagnosing autism”. Provides information for both families and professionals.
- Unlocking Autism provides a Parent 2 Parent network, as well as in depth information regarding autism “In the News”.
Of course the resources are many and all of the websites listed suggest helpful books for parents and professionals as well as additional links to other autism websites.
As stated in my post from last Friday, I will be writing several Autism focused posts over the next month. I welcome and encourage parents and professionals to please write in and share your professional knowledge, personal stories and any resources regarding Autism that you feel others should know and can benefit from hearing!