April is NATIONAL AUTISM AWARENESS month. Although this is a pet blog, I wanted to help spread the word about Autism awareness. Autism, or Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD), is estimated to impact 1 in every 68 children in the U.S., with the majority of them being girls vs. boys. That is a staggering statistic!
A dear friend of ours has a beautiful daughter, Alison. Alison has Autism. For years we've seen her parents struggle with this condition. Finding information, getting services for her and support for themselves was not easy. There were many challenges. Back then the awareness and support really wasn't there. Alison is in her early twenties now and is doing beautifully. Sadly she lost her mother, our good friend, to cancer at the age of 15. It was a devastating blow and we were so worried about how it would effect Alison, but we were in awe of her resilience.
Some years later her Dad remarried and we attended the wedding. Alison looked beautiful in her bridesmaid dress. She was having a great time at the wedding, dancing with her cousins and enjoying herself immensely. It was a joy to watch. At one point, she abruptly turned to my husband and asked "John, can you please hold my bouquet, I have to use the bathroom?" That may seem like nothing to most people, but my husband was actually very touched by her tiny request. There were so many times when she was growing up that he felt as though Alison didn't always acknowledge or even recognize him! Sounds crazy since he's known her since she was born, but that's how it was with Alison, she didn't communicate much with us, and was always very quiet around us.
We were delighted to find out that she holds down a job now, giving her some independence and confidence! I guess she is the reason I wanted to write this post, share the few facts I've learned about Autism, and encourage others to continually help raise awareness.
> There is a very wide spectrum of Autism symptoms, some mild and some severe.
> The exact cause of Autism isn't totally clear.
> Symptoms of Autism can be detected as early as 12 - 18 months of age.
A few of the early symptoms of Autism I have read about include the following, which can show up within the first two years of age:
* Making little to no eye contact, seem not to be interested in others, and don't smile
* They don't try to engage other people in what they are doing
* They don't point to objects or respond when someone else points to objects or calls them by name
* As they begin talking their speech may sound mechanical with little inflection
* May be extremely intolerant of simple changes to routine or environment
* May have excessive tantrums and seem uncontrollable
* They don't enjoy being touched or cuddled and prefer to play alone rather than with other kids
There are many other symptoms, and symptoms can vary widely. There is help and support out there for families dealing with Autism, but it's important to continually raise awareness.
To learn more about Autism, visit the following web sites:
The National Autism Awareness Society
I'm also adding another link to a great blog and great post about Autism Dogs I just found on The Pet Mom's blog. This link has been placed on this post 3 days after publication.
Have you or someone you know been touched by Autism? Are there other resources you can recommend for learning more about Autism? Please leave us a comment, we love hearing from you!