Today is World Autism Day. Cities from across the globe will be lighting their monuments blue in recognition of their citizens who are on the autism spectrum. Here in the United States, participants include New York City and the Macy’s flagship store, Chicago and the Sears Tower (now Willis), as well as several other cities across the nation.
The movement Light it Up Blue was started by Autism Speaks eight years ago. The purpose of the campaign is to draw attention to autism and create awareness. Autism Speaks was founded by two grandparents who wanted to help their grandson who had autism. The organization has been in existence for 10 years and has raised money to help families with autism with resources, elopement prevention, 100 day kits, as well as scientific research that targets causation, prevention, and treatment of autism symptoms, such as early diagnosis and interventions.
One out of 68 American children will be diagnosed with some form of autism. Autism spectrum disorder is just that — a spectrum. People who are diagnosed with autism exhibit various kinds of symptoms from severe to mild.
Autism Speaks explains autism spectrum disorder as a complex disorder with its roots in very early brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age.
ASD can present as an intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination, and attention and physical health issues, such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Some of the signs of autism in children are the following:
- No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
- No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
- No babbling by 12 months
- No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
- No words by 16 months
- No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
- Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age
If you are concerned that someone you love may have autism, please consult your doctor and contact Autism Speaks at autismspeaks.org or (888) 288-4762.
Make sure you wear blue today as chances are you know someone with autism.
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