autism-awareness-ribbon

Now that the month is closing out I thought I would mention what was special about April: It is Autism Awareness month. For those that don’t know, here is a brief description of autism, taken from Wikipedia:

Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood.

The first use of autism as a modern diagnosis is credited to Leo Kanner of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He used the label early infantile autism in a report of 11 children in a 1943 report. The children all had strong behavioral similarities. Most of the behaviors he described in his paper are still used as criteria for diagnosis today.

Because autism is diagnosed by observation rather than any kind of physiological test there is some question about the veracity of current autism statistics. The current rate in the United States is considered to be between 1 in 500 (2/1,000) to 1 in 166 children (6/1,000) that have autism. Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.

The community I live in strongly encourages integration so I know several families who have autistic children, as well as families who have children with cerebral palsy and others with mental retardation. My oldest son has a good friend with Asperger’s. My youngest son carries the diagnosis. He can be difficult at times but I love him to pieces. He is a warm, loving guy who gets a big charge out of being with his family. This is a rare trait in someone with autism and a facet of his personality I really treasure. He also shares my love of books. Although we have thus far been unsuccessful in teaching him to read he often picks out books at the library or in the book store for us to read to him. Many nights find him in the living room paging through his newest acquisition.

Do you know anyone with ASD (autism spectrum disorder)?

– Maggie AAR