We live in the world of autism. Our 16 year old son is autistic and yes we have struggles but oh my goodness has he come a long way especially in the last year. Once he turned 16 it was like a switch went off and now he works a job (with support), is learning life skills and even rides a horse and has his own horse. He even occasionally competes in shows now – that is definitely the highlight of his life. Notice he always wears blue instead of black and white!
Since April is World Autism Month, I’ve decided to #LightItUpBlue with Autism Speaks to increase understanding and awareness of autism. The issue is deeply personal to me as a mom of a child with autism. It’s highly likely that you know someone with autism too since the CDC estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in every 68 children in the United States.
Autism refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
Autism’s most obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Autism Speaks encourages parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes.
Our son did receive early intervention but not as early as he could have. He is adopted and unfortunately was already 2 1/2 by the time he entered foster care. Still – he received early intervention and fortunately my husband and I are financially in a situation where we can do anything we need to for him – such as buy him his horse.
The “Light It Up Blue” campaign is about more than awareness — it is about increasing understanding and acceptance of autism. This includes advocacy and support for people across the entire spectrum throughout their lives. It also includes advancing research into personalized treatments for autism and related conditions. I encourage you test your understanding of autism by taking this quiz!
Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include GI disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.
Our son has many other issues as well as autism. This makes his autism incredibly difficult to focus on. We need to focus on his whole person and it takes a great deal of trial and error.
You can help make a difference too by taking the Light It Up Blue Quiz to see how much you know about autism. If you’re moved to do so after visiting AutismSpeaks.org, please show your support for and understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with autism by sharing a photo to #LightItUpBlue for Autism Awareness Month too. Also, check out Autism Speaks’ nationwide calendar of autism-friendly friendly events and activities in April.