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.
- 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.
- Autism NOW: The National Autism Resource and Information Center is an interactive, highly visible and central point of quality resources and information for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.
- Apps for Autism (originally broadcast in October 2011 on CBS’s 60 Minutes) explored how tablet computers and special applications allow those challenged by ASD to communicate more efficiently and effectively.
- Picture AAC app (from Hearty SPIN) is an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch app that helps nonverbal individuals with autism and other special needs to communicate effectively using pictures.