April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day in Canada, and April is recognized as Autism Awareness Month.
1 in 88 children are diagnosed with Autism.
Studies show that Autism is 3 times more common in boys than girls.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the term used to describe a complex brain development disorder. Autism can be characterized by delayed or impaired verbal communication, motor skills and social interactions. It is often characterised with repetitive behaviour including echolalia, spinning or rocking. Each individual diagnosed with Autism will have differing levels of abilities.
At present, there is no cure for Autism. Within the scientific community, it is believed that a combination of environmental factors along with a genetic predisposition cause Autism. There is no pre-delivery medical detection for Autism – early signs are usually noted in children between the ages of 2 and 3 years of age.
This is my nephew Wyatt – he was diagnosed with Autism when he was 2. He is 10 now and is doing extremely well. He is intelligent, active and so funny. It’s not without challenges, but my brother and sister-in-law endeavour to ensure Wyatt’s Autism diagnosis isn’t what defines him to his peers and society. They do everything in their power to see that Wyatt gets the services and support he needs to grow into his full potential. It isn’t easy or inexpensive. They have to pay for many of the specialists themselves because there are no provincial programs in place after pre-school. Every province in Canada has their own level of services and support for those with Autism. There is no federal strategy in place.
Autism Speaks Canada is a group working towards a Canadian National Autism Strategy. I strongly urge everyone to consider making a donation to this very worthwhile organization. Click here to be linked to Autism Speaks Canada.
Outside making a financial contribution, if you know someone with an Autistic child – do something thoughtful for their family to help alleviate their stress: make them supper or take the kids for an hour or two. Especially in rural areas, respite care is not readily available and parents need a break sometime – your offer will be appreciated. Do it in April because its Autism Awareness month, but continue in the months after because it’s the right thing to do.