Chances are you know someone with autism. That’s because it is very prevalent – one in 88 births in the United States with a higher rate for boys (one in 54). Autism is a developmental disability with a neurological basis and is considered a spectrum disorder, affecting individuals to varying degrees, from mild to severe. Autism limits a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Certain behaviors are characteristic of and define this disorder.
This heart wrenching article that appeared in the New York Times gives you an inkling of the herculean efforts family members make in order to understand and support their children with autism.
April is National Autism Awareness Month! Considering the relatively great number of individuals and families impacted by this disorder and the fact that lifetime supports are needed to help them, it makes sense to educate the public about issues those with autism face and encourage fundraising to further research on this disability. Increased awareness brings acceptance, which is vital to the integration of the differently-abled into our communities.
Here in Columbia, Missouri we have a phenomenal resource – The Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri. This nationally renowned facility seeks to improve the lives of those affected by autism and other neurological disorders via programs that integrate research, clinical service delivery, education and public policy. Life Skills/TouchPoint is another local organization that provides training and support services to those with autism and their family members.
Your library has extensive collections on both autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (a milder form of autism), that include books on parenting those with autism, alternative treatments, guides for teachers in the classroom, memoirs written by those on the spectrum and so on. If you would like to join a local event supporting research and families dealing with this disorder, William Woods University is sponsoring a 5K run on Friday, April 18 in Columbia, and the funds raised will benefit the Thompson Center.
Photo credit: Graphic from the Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office and used under a Creative Commons License.