On the evening of April 2nd, the Empire State Building was lit up in blue lights above the New York skyline in celebration of the 6th annual United Nations World Autism Awareness Day. During the entire month of April, landmarks and prominent buildings around the world will shine with a blue light in commemoration of World Autism Awareness Month, this will also serve as an invitation to everyone to also “light it up blue” in their own way. Join the Great Pyramids at Giza, the Sydney Opera House, Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janiero, Burj Al Arab in Dubai, Mall of Asia in the Philippines, Tianjin TV Tower in China, Niagara Falls, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Santa Monica pier Ferris wheel, and many other locations. This is the time to learn about Autism, the invisible disorder that affects one in eighty eight children in the U.S.
Autism is a complex condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate with others. Often accompanied by behavioral challenges, it directly impacts a person’s capacity to develop social skills and build relationships. The Autism spectrum is very broad, with High Functioning Autism (HFA) on one end and Low Functioning Autism (LFA) on the other. The causes of Autism were determined to be environmental, genetic and hereditary. According the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it is more common with male children and one in every fifty four boys in America is diagnosed with Autism.
It was first discovered in the 1940’s, but individuals with Autism were misdiagnosed as mentally ill and institutionalized throughout the 1950’s and 60’s. Limited knowledge of Autism at the time placed the blame on the so-called “Refrigerator Mom’s” who were accused of treating their children in a cold, neglectful manner, hence, causing their Autism. As the years went on, several breakthroughs gave medical and care providers a deeper understanding of this condition and allowed for significantly better diagnosis methodology. In the 1980’s, one in every one thousand children was diagnosed with Autism. Today, there is a vast array of resources for prevention, treatment, support and awareness for Autism, but there is still work to be done and a large portion of society is still unaware or confused about the nature of the condition.
Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest organization for Autism research, advocacy and outreach will be providing an array of opportunities to Balita readers to gain awareness about Autism or get involved in activities for families with loved ones in the Autism spectrum. Pam Eisenberg, Autism Speaks Senior Director for Field Development shared their objectives with Balita Media, Inc. “Our mission is to help all families, adults and children struggling with Autism, through research, science, education, prevention, treatment, and community involvement until we find the cure,” she said. “The ultimate goal is to enable children with Autism to have good self esteem, be forward thinking, make strong relationships, graduate through school, and become productive adults. This is achieved through many types of therapy, which may include speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.”
“Parents of newly diagnosed children are encouraged to find a good support system, get as much knowledge as they can about Autism, talk to their spouse about it, take care of their spouse and children, never be afraid to ask questions, to keep asking until the right answer is found, and to ask again if the right answer isn’t good enough.”
Autismspeaks.org is an abundant source of information on where to find family services, how to support Autism-related causes, research and programs or download tool kits, obtain merchandise, or plan for upcoming walks and fundraisers.
On April 20, 2013, Los Angeles Walk Now for Autism Speaks returns to the Pasadena Rose Bowl for its eleventh year, presented by The Vons Foundation. As the nation’s largest Autism walk, it is expected to draw 40,000 supporters, where families with Autistic members can meet other families in a community setting, and get to know the services, products and resources available to them through the various vendors and booths at the Resource Fair, including First Step for Kids, Lindamood Bell, Pasadena Child Development & Associates, Premiere Healthcare Services, Leaps N Boundz and Trumpet Behavioral Health.
For more information on Los Angeles Walk Now for Autism Speaks, visit www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/losangeles.
For a full schedule of Autism walks across the U.S., visit www.walknowforautismspeaks.org, for more information on Light It Up Blue, visit www.lightitupblue.org, and to connect with Autism Speaks, visit www.autismspeaks.org or www.facebook.com/autismspeaks.