Reaching Out: World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Why should you care? Stop and think about the following information: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Even more alarming is that this represents a 78% increase in rates of ASD since the CDC conducted its first report on the disorder in 2007. If communication is the essence of being human, we have a responsibility to help those who struggle with ASD.

According to the AutismSpeaks.org, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, ASD disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by:

  • difficulties in social interaction
  • verbal and nonverbal communication and
  • repetitive behaviors.

In addition, autism is much more complex than most people realize. As Dr. Nancy J. Minshew of the Center for Excellence in Autism Research (CeFAR) at the University of Pittsburgh points out, what we think of as autism actually encompasses a number of intricate disorders of brain development. Even more challenging is the need to understand what, at the genetic level, contributes to ASD. Doing so requires an enormous amount of first-hand information from those who struggle with ASD.  Fortunately, the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) and other participating organizations (such as NIMH, NICHD, NINDS, NIEHS, and CIT/NIH ) are safely collecting and sharing information to better understand what causes and how to treat ASD.

Related Resources:

Viral Kindness?

Random Acts of Kindness WeekEver wonder how or why sarcasm and snarkiness get so much attention our culture? When was the last time someone was kind to you in a quiet but genuinely profound way? Even more important, when was the last time you willingly went out of your way to be kind to another?

What if most–not all, mind you, just most–of the basically good people walking on the surface of this planet decided to make kindness an accepted cultural norm.

What if most people tried, at least once a day, to do someone a kind turn.

What if most people did this consistently, making a chain of days linked by gracefully kind acts? What if that chain extended weeks, months, and years in time?

Do you think it can happen?

It can.

Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 13th – 19th) is quickly approaching. Now is a perfect time to exercise your compassion and proclivity toward doing good. It’s easy: be kind and be kind consistently.

Help others.

Need some inspiration? Start by visiting Storytellers for Good. The site explores how people are making a difference in the world. These folks do it. So can you.