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article imageToday is World Autism Awareness Day

By Nikki Weingartner     Apr 2, 2009 in Health
Autism isn't a family problem. It isn't a city or state problem. It isn't even a national problem. Autism isn't really a problem at all, but rather a global disability that needs more awareness training. Today is World Autism Awareness Day...
April 2 is World Autism Awareness day where messages are spoken across the globe about Autism. Listed in alphabetical order, a schedule of events provides a running tally of walkathons, concerts and auctions being hosted in a different countries. In Ontario, Canada two separate concerts will be held this evening at the Studio at Hamilton Place in support of awareness day. Amherst and Halifax are also hosting events in honour of world Autism Awareness. Of course, the greatest number of events are being hosted in the United Kingdom and the United States, where amazing support and a wealth of resources continue to help families affected by the Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD.
In a message from the Secretary General of the United Nations (pdf of message here), a united stand to help those who have Autism is not an unattainable dream, stating:
I welcome this growing international chorus of voices calling for action to enable children and persons with autism to lead full and meaningful lives. This is not a far-off dream; it is a reality that can be attained by promoting positive perceptions about autism as well as a greater social understanding of this growing challenge.
Last year, the event was celebrated in twenty countries across the globe, holding hands on one day for one cause.
Autism is defined as in general as a "complex developmental disability" which can cause social difficulties with regards to communications, pragmatics and other behaviour / filtering problems that include strict or obsessive patterns in routines, patterned actions like tapping or word use, or other obsessive patterns. Some show speech delays prior to the age of three, although this isn't in itself a cause for diagnosis, nor does a lack of this sign exclude it either. Autism as a whole is viewed along a spectrum of disorders that are categorized into one of three labels and ranging from mild to severe:
Autistic disorder (also called “classic” autism)
Asperger syndrome
Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified [PDD or PDD-NOS] (or atypical autism)
Along the spectrum, the individuals vary as much as the disorder itself. Those within the Aspergers category often have normal to higher intelligence levels than the average person but often show an obsessive tendency towards a subject or topic, with total disregard of another's thoughts or beliefs. The term PDD and PDD-NOS is often used when there are "some behaviors that are seen in autism, but does not meet the full criteria for having autism. Most importantly, whether a child is diagnosed with a PDD (like autism) or a PDD-NOS, his/her treatment will be similar." There is no medical test for Autism, and therefore an accurate diagnosis is reliant upon the elimination of other disorders as well as meeting the criterion presented in the information linked above.
Autism itself is not treatable, although there are some who suffer severely enough or have secondary conditions that warrant medical intervention. Most along the ASD benefit from both Behavioral Therapy as well as educational programs that enable children to function in a "normal" environment with modifications (see pdf for treatment options).
There are also risk factors involved, including a family link to Autism and other disorders. The hype surrounding immunizations did not hold up under further investigation and currently is not considered a cause.
In late February, President Obama included a $211 Million US proposal funding the Combating Autism Act (CAA) in his 2010 budget plan. The act was originally passed in 2006 following a bipartisan introduction, that provided some allocates approximately $950 Million US in spending on autism over five years. The additional $2 plus Millions is to be used for
causes of and treatments for ASD, screenings, public awareness, and support services.
Autism Speaks and many others have taken part in the global awareness effort. The organization operates out of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Middle East.
Are you aware?
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