World Autism Awareness Day: What Are The Facts?

World-Autism-Day

Fundraising and awareness-raising events are being held across the globe today (April 2), to mark the sixth annual World Autism Awareness Day.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder often have difficulties with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and show repetitive behaviors.

In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new figures on autism spectrum disorder in the United States — and they were up.

One in 88 children is now believed to have autism, compared to the previous estimate of 1 in 110.

“Autism is now officially becoming an epidemic in the United States,” Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks stated.

Fifty years ago, autistic behavior was blamed on “refrigerator moms” for not teaching their children social skills. “Now we know there’s a host of genes and environmental factors that are likely involved,” says Susan Hyman, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) subcommittee on autism.

A new study suggests that autism cannot always be accurately defined or diagnosed, particularly since the condition affects people in different ways.

Researchers are also asking: can a child outgrow the condition?

One of the most outspoken celebrity moms on the topic, Jenny McCarthy, claims this is true.

Jenny’s son Evan, now 10, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 ½-years-old. The single mom has publicly spoken about the possible link between childhood vaccinations and autism. She is also well-known for saying that children can “recover” from autism.

“I look at autism like a bus accident, and you don’t become cured from a bus accident, but you can recover,” Jenny said.

Has the community embraced her since Evan’s recovery — and her controversial statement?

“My story of Evan’s recovery is not unique, there are thousands of parents before me whose shoulders I stand on today,” Jenny said. “I’m just as active today as when Evan recovered from autism. I still travel the country lecturing on autism, am the president and board member of Generation Rescue and actively fundraise throughout the country for the foundation. My journey now is for the other parents whose voice hasn’t been heard.”

While the studies for autism are ongoing, there’s one thing we know for sure — it’s important to support families with special needs.

Here’s some great tips to provide encouragement and support.

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  1. I’ve read there are degrees of autism, or “spectrums.” But for my brother who is 53 years old, being cured was never an option. He was born in Germany, delivered at home by a midwife with the cord wrapped around his neck – a “blue” baby. It’s been speculated that if he’d received oxygen he might not be the way he is. Is his autism caused by oxygen deprivation? All I know is my brother Jimmy is an amazing human. He doesn’t know how to hide what he feels. He’s being honest when he shows anxiety or anger, so when he’s happy, like when I show up for a visit, his joy is 100% real and I feel awesome.

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