World Autism Awareness Day
It's World Autism Awareness Day today, April 2nd. That means it's time for the World to focus on what autism is, how it impacts families, and what we need to do as a world community to help those who are unable to help themselves.
According to the latest CDC estimates, 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 have autism, with the official number for all children still holding at 1 in 88. Think about that. Put 50 first graders in a room, and at least one will have autism. That's where we are.
So where do we go? A lot of energy is focused on finding out why autism is so common, and from there what action needs to be taken. Some people talk of cures, some people talk of lawsuits, others say it's who they are and don't try to "cure" me. Personally, the causes don't mean a whole lot for those that currently have autism, as they just need to know how to manage themselves in this world.
But in order for that to happen, they need to find a place. Our children need to find schools that will educate them based on their needs. They need healthcare that is supportive, willing to provide for the very expensive costs of therapy necessary to help these remarkable children succeed. They need local, State, and federal governments who are understanding and willing to create this environment to help them succeed. They need ordinary people like you and me to be willing to accept them for who they are, and willing to help when it's needed, and give them space when they need it.
Tonight, many cities around the world will switch their white lighting around their buildings to blue. It will look pretty, and many people will feel they have done their duty. Much like wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, green for Saint Patrick's Day, etc. Some will buy ribbons, stickers, buttons, or magnets to display their support for this one day for autism awareness. Tweets, walls, and other social media posts will be dripping with support and awareness messages. It's great, because the news is getting out there.
But it's not enough to wear blue, use blue lightbulbs, or buy a ribbon. While we take this day to focus on autism, we need to focus on helping those with autism get the education they need in the best environment, get jobs, be productive, and feel comfortable in society. Autism isn't a one day thing, ask any parent with a child on the spectrum. It's an every minute thing, because you are "on" every minute of every day. Autism is on every minute of every day.
So, today, please show your support for those with autism, and continue that support tomorrow, the next day, and so on. Children with autism are very special children, and deserve to be seen as children, not a diagnosis.