If you look on my sidebar, you will see a nifty little banner about blogging for autism awareness. This is an event that will go on all this month all over the blogosphere. Click on it and read articles way better than mine. Why should I care? I don't have an autistic child. However, I do know, within about a 4 x4 block area around my home alone, about 8 people who are on the autism spectrum. I know people in other areas of the community , many among friends, and one in the extended family. I see many in the Early education and special ed departments at the schools my children attend. I have interpreted for education on autism and parents of autistic children. It is everywhere.
Did you even know much about autism when you were growing up? Did you know anyone who had it? It was something rarely heard of. I remember seeing a made for TV movie once about a child. That was it. In part the old trend to institutionalize these children may explain some of why that is. Also, today there is so much more information at our disposal. High functioning autistics weren't even recognized as such until later years. Even so, I truly believe that there is a real epidemic going on, and it behooves us to be aware of it and act upon it.
Maybe in part there are more autistic kids because more kids survive than before. That still doesn't explain the numbers today: 1 in 150. Something is going on, and no one yet knows what it is. Is it environmental, nutritional, a fluke of evolution? Is it caused by heredity or vaccinations? There are no definitive answers. Much needs to be done in the way of research.
Another important issue is that many of the therapies that are found to be very beneficial are not covered by most insurances. Just getting a good diagnosis can be very difficult. The biggest shame about this is that the younger it is identified and intervention is put in place, the better the prognosis for the child's development. This is the future of a big chunk of our population. If we don't help them reach their best potential now, to be able to deal with the society they live in, and care for themselves, many who could learn to meet several of these needs will not. We need to figure out better ways to care for their ongoing needs that remain as they grow into adulthood. The future will also be easier for both them and society, if we can take the time to understand them and learn to deal with them positively. They are real human beings. They have a lot to teach us too, if we can just understand them. We need to understand and support the families of these children, who have such great challenges to face. We need to know how to help and then find ways to do it. It pays to insure these children and work on these issues now. We need to push for this in whatever ways we can. It could so easily be your own child. It already is your neighbor.
Here's an interesting little video to start you thinking. Notice the hands running in water segment, because it is eerily similar to the Espinoza Syndrome's method of bringing on a drought, a subject we will have to visit another day...