Friday, April 06, 2012

Powerful Reasons for Raising Awareness

Several events have hammered home for me the need to raise awareness regarding Autism and special needs of our kids might have.

Booth from 2011 Walk now for Autism Speaks
  • I have had staff of two different schools approach me and ask about resources for autism screening and resources. There seems to be a definite need for educators to recognize signs of Autism and resources to both offer referrals, as well as additional training for staff.
  • When a big Autism story hits the news, family and friends look to me and ask if I've heard the latest. They want to know what I think, which is a great opportunity to discuss and raise awareness. Would be so much better if I knew more and therefor had better information to share.
  • At least two of my child's pediatricians have questioned that he has Autism. This is in a big HMO. One of these pediatricians actually challenged his diagnosis from the CAD Clinic. A third pediatrician went to bat for us, requesting additional services to help our son. Most of these requests were denied - especially in the ABA area.
  • I was asked to give a talk last year on Autism to a local volunteer organization and many of them had no idea of the impact it was already having on our community. They wanted to learn more and how they could help.
  • There have been several heatbreaking news stories about families dealing with in despair who decided the best solution they had was to end their lives. The constant wear to one's energy, financial burdens, lack of resources, and social isolation can be deadly.
  • People are starting to find their own answers that can both help mainstream individuals on the spectrum and provide them a way to live independent lives. Examples: The CATS Program,, Specialisterne, and programs like the Wonder League. This is the tip of the iceberg, my friends. We need more thinking  with this in mind; there can be success stories!
  • Budgets again are being slashed for the front-line providers: Regional Centers and the public schools. This is bad in so many ways, I could make a short story out of the reasons why I know this is both short-sighted, false prioritizing, and wrong. The biggest reason being ...
  • The numbers of our children being diagnosed with Autism keeps rising, with no end in sight. How can we halt or treat something we don't fully understand? The official CDC numbers are now 1: 88 children on the spectrum; 1: 54 for boys. In Utah, the numbers show 1: 47 children and 1: 33 for boys. Experts believe that the true numbers are closer to 1: 33 than 1:88. These children will be adults in about a decade. More generations of Autistic children will follow.
  • Too many children are being diagnosed past the ideal diagnostic age of 18 months. If a child can be diagnosed and receiving services before age 3, their brains have a much better chance to develop and allow better communication and development overall. More parents need early detection information so they can act earlier.
  • The problems of dealing with children on the Autism spectrum, integrating them into society, and helping them grow into independent, well-adjusted adults cannot be ignored. Knowledge is power and we as a community need more of it to get more information about Autism, and use it to help our children, the people who work with them, and help avoid Autism in future generations.

I love James for who he is. I accept that Autism is part of him. I do not love what Autism is putting us all through.

So yes, we will be walking on April 14th. And talking. And sharing. And hoping.

 Thank you to those who have helped us so far. It really means a lot to us!

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