Autism awareness worth attention

Published 10:46 pm Friday, April 9, 2010

When you consider that one in 110 people has autism, you may stop and think, “Really?”

Autism is a complex developmental disability usually diagnosed in the first three years of a person’s life that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

It is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is what’s called a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.

The country recognizes April as a celebration of Autism Awareness, which gives citizens an opportunity to learn all they can about the effects of the disability.

We’re pleased to know state representative Cam Ward has taken such a proactive stance on autism awareness. His personal experience with his own child on the autism spectrum led him to create the Alabama Autism Task Force in 2007.

More individuals with a public forum and influence should take advantage and inform their communities as best they can.

While the label is commonplace, consider that there are no “autistic children” but rather children with autism. The disability should not define the individual.

Parents should keep a sharp eye out for signs children are demonstrating autistic behavior, including a lack of or delay in spoken language, repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms, little or no eye contact, a lack of interest in peer relationship, a lack of spontaneous or make-believe play and a persistent fixation on parts of objects.

Any child can display these traits on a fairly regular basis, and it doesn’t always mean he or she has autism. But if the behavior persists, see a doctor in case early diagnosis and intervention is necessary.

Communities must see to providing adequate services high in numbers and quality. Older children with autism must find sufficient transition services.

Classrooms must implement as many technological resources as possible to ensure an effective learning experience for children with autism.

Most importantly, we all need to seek out new information on autism by researching it online or listening to the parents of the children. By at least listening and learning, we put ourselves in a better position to help any cause.