If you are already aware of autism, DO something about it
Today is World Autism Day. People from all over the world are supposed to “Light it Up Blue” to raise awareness of autism. The CDC just released the new statistics last week indicating a 30% increase in autism. 1 in 68 children has a diagnosis of autism. In the 25 years I have spent as a therapist specializing in autism, those numbers have risen from 1 in 2500. Clearly we have an epidemic. Clearly it is not about better diagnostics. Clearly it is not all about the genetics. We don’t seem to know what is causing this crisis. Common sense tells us we need to start being very careful with what we are shooting into the bodies of the very young, despite what the American Pediatric Association mandates.
After all this time in the field of autism, I am going to say this. I hate autism. I love MANY people who have autism. In fact, some of the best people I know have autism. But I hate what autism does to them. I hate the chaos it causes in the brain. I hate the sensory overload. I hate the missed developmental milestones that hold the secret to the child’s future. I hate the devastation autism causes families. The divorce rates, the stress, the loss of dreams and the mourning of lost potential. The financial havoc. I hate the confusion and misunderstandings that autism feeds. And the difficulty in managing one’s own self. The struggles around communication and thinking. The everyday things that the rest of us take for granted as being simple becoming huge obstacles. The gigantic toll that it takes on the schools. I hate that the quality of life for most impacted by autism is not good. Careers, relationships, and the ability to contribute easily to this world all changed by autism. The sense of isolation. The confusion. The depression. The loss.
So many years in the field of autism has shown me a lot. I know the most amazing families who have children diagnosed. I see their struggles. I see the undying dedication and incredible work they do to change what autism is doing to their children. Their dedication and efforts humble me. And their children, the beautiful miraculous children coping with autism and thriving despite. The things these people have taught me about love touches me daily. It has changed how I look at this world and taught me to be present and grateful while here. It motivates me to not stop trying. Trying to minimize the impact and hold autism has on these families.
At this point I believe awareness is one of our lesser concerns. Most people at this point are aware of autism. Almost everyone at this point knows of someone who has a diagnosis. Our children’s generation will be left with this legacy and with aiding those who will continue to cope with autism into old age. I believe the time has come for “autism awareness” day to be changed into “do something about autism” day. Here are a few things you can do about it:
TALK about autism. Make a conversation that is heard regularly in your homes, neighborhoods and in the media. Talk so loudly about autism that those who have the power to change funding do so.
VOLUNTEER to help. Do you know a family impacted by autism? Volunteer to watch their kids, pick up groceries, make a meal, or just listen. Volunteer at places working with autism (Pathways, iAspire, WCAS, Autism One, NC Autism Society….)
PARTICIPATE in fundraisers, walks, events, calls to action.
DONATE. Money is a huge obstacle for those dealing with autism. Schools doing their best to help students with autism need more than average funding. My favorite is the Dynamic Community Charter School (www.Dynamiccommunitycs.com)
PRAY, meditate, send good vibes for families coping with autism.
If you are already aware of autism, please make today about doing something about it.