Autism: Let's Help Promote Awareness

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 Association 
Autism Speaks

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!


Hailey and Zaphod and their Lady said...

Thanks for helping bring awareness to this cause that is near and dear to my heart. I am a behaviour analyst who works with individuals with autism. I have done this for 15 years. I really think they are the coolest people.

Unknown said...

Oh wow, thank you so much for bringing attention to Autism. I have known a few children with it, and I just wish I could bring them home with me, and love them to bits.
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

Unknown said...

I just commented but I don't see it - so just let me say again how moved I was by this post. You are wonderful for sharing this, Cathy!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It's so wonderful that you work with people who have Autism, it must be so rewarding! I'm glad there is more awareness and support for people today than there was 15 - 20 years ago. Thanks so much for visiting us on the blog!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

That is so sweet, Jenna,I know just what you mean! Thanks for stopping by today!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thank you so much, that's really sweet of you to say! I'm so glad you liked it. I read your post on Autism Dogs this morning and I loved it so much! You did a great job, those dogs are amazing. I'm adding your post as an external link to this post. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today!

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