Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Birthday - World Autism Awareness Day

Today is my birthday...and every year there seems to be some "event" or "day" that someone dreams up to accompany it. Usually I find these links meaningless, but today is different. For many years my cousin and her husband have fought tooth and nail to see that their autistic son has the best upbringing he can have and provided all the unconditional love they can muster. I admire them for that and in recognition I take this opportunity to point out that today is "World Autism Awareness Day" to help raise our awareness of autism and the struggles of families with an autistic member.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. There is no cure for autism and the symptoms range from quite mild to severe. While autism rates are increasing around the world, its causes remain unknown and there is currently no test to help prevent it.

Autistic behavior such as hand flapping, tapping and mouthing objects, toe walking, rocking back and forth, head banging, and vocalizing have led researchers to consider that those with autism are overly sensitive, under-sensitive, or both. Autistic people may share common behaviors which appear in all sorts of combination and vary in levels of intensity.

The World Autism Awareness Day celebration revolves around the hope that in the future, improved research studies and technology, as well as increased awareness and compassion among members of society will help to improve our knowledge and understanding of and responsiveness to autism.

I encourage you to learn more about autism by visiting the Autism Society of America and challenge you to make a matching donation to my recent $20 in the name of bringing solutions to all families with autistic members.

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