Now is The Time to Raise Awareness: Light it Up Blue for Autism

I’ve had this post in the editorial calendar for a while because Monday is Worldwide Autism Awareness Day.

What I didn’t know when I scheduled this post is that the CDC was going to release a new report showing that the number of autistic children has increased over 78% in the last 10 years.

I pretty much fell off my chair when I read that.

1 in 54 boys will be diagnosed with autism.

More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined.

That pretty much means that if you’ve never met anyone with autism, then you will. Very soon.

The number of increased cases of autism over the last dedicated is definitely attributed to more awareness of the disease and better screening,  but there are also environmental factors in play that scientists haven’t been able to identify yet. That’s the tricky part about finding a cure, or even what causes autism. It’s not 100% genetic and it’s not 100% environmental. It’s a cocktail of both and we haven’t discovered the recipe yet.

But we will.

On Monday the world is going to “Light it Up Blue” for autism awareness. All sorts of awesome things are going to happen. Landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Sydney Opera House are going to be lit up with blue lights. Certain retailers will be giving people the opportunity to donate money for research at the cash register. It’s also likely that there’s going to be some intense press coverage about the day as well. Probably not anything quite as big as my blog (pfft. USA TODAY) but you get the point.

The point is that people are going to be talking about autism.

I love it when people talk about autism. It has to be talked about. People need to know that it’s ok to ask questions if they think their children aren’t meeting all of the milestones.

My personal opinion is that at the first signs of any type of delay, children should start receiving specialized treatment and therapies. Some may say that’s overkill, but what’s it going to hurt if it turns out the child was just a little bit behind in their development and not actually autistic?

*Steps off soapbox*

Blue is way better than green

I like to think of World Autism Awareness Day as St. Patrick’s Day with a purpose and less alcoholism. It’s our excuse to cover everything in blue. We wear blue. We buy blue lightbulbs from Home Depot. We even grub on blue eggs and ham.

Lightitupblue.org is full of ideas for how to help on Autism Awareness Day. Here are a few of my favorites

  1. Take your efforts online – some of you may have already noticed that my blog is throwing up blue and that I’m using the Light it up Blue logo for my Twitter and Facebook pictures. Now do I think that’s going to make a huge impact? Maybe? But it’s really simple to do so why not, right? You can get the artwork here.
  2. Dress in blue – I want you guys thinking Smurfs on Monday. I plan on wearing a blue body suit to the office. It’s not going to be good for anyone, but no one is going to forget it’s Autism Awareness Day.
  3. Swim in the Ocean – because it’s blue. This means if you have to take a vacation you have my permission. It’s for a good cause.
  4. Hug someone with autism - NOTE: Make sure the don’t hate hugging first ;) If they don’t, then give them a giant squeeze and let them know you care.
  5. Send a donation request letter to the winner of the Mega Millions jackpot: If all of us do this, there’s no reason whoever wins can’t donate a cool million. If that doesn’t work we could always pitch in 10 bucks at the Autism Speaks donation page here.
  6. Learn more about autism and talk about it – Taking the time to learn about autism or teach someone else about it is time extremely well spent.  It’s like G.I. Joe always said: “Knowing is half the battle.”

Collin has taught us so much as parents and as people. He has this unique ability to push us to our limit, and then ease off before we break.

There are days when raising Collin is freaking hard. However, despite any challenges we’ve ever had with him, we’ve always been extremely lucky that the situation isn’t much much worse. Others aren’t as fortunate.

Finding the cause of autism is more important than it’s ever been. At the rate things are going, something has to be done NOW. We don’t have time to wait any longer.

Our kids deserve our best effort.

Will you join me on Monday as we Light it up Blue?

P.S. The blue body suit was just a sick joke (I’m wearing a blue leotard).

Comments

  1. says

    B-Fry and I rocked blue last year and we’ll do it again this year. :) One of my clients I work with has autism. And somedays it is very difficult to work with him, but when he finally ‘gets’ something we’ve been working on it’s awesome! Oh and if you ever wanna know about airplanes or I Love Lucy….I’m sure he has the answer. :)

    You and your wife are awesome because I’m sure there are plenty of parents who wouldn’t do what you both do everyday!

  2. says

    I def can wear blue on Monday. Now I’m thinking about doing a Half Marathon that fundraises for Autism Speaks. Met the director at a different expo yesterday, and he said his son is autistic.

  3. nightrunner says

    I have worked with children with autism for over 30 years as a Speech Pathologist, and I just have to say that the kids I am seeing labeled in my classrooms lately-well, many are not. It’s become the label du jour, kids get more services and more SSI money, so if parents are pressuring physicians and psychologists (many who have NOT been trained in diagnosing autism) to label their kids “Autistic/Asperger”. I have seen kids with mental retardation (Down’s Syndrome) have their label changed to “Autism” when they had NONE of the required behaviors. Just have to put this out there, because it’s the truth-so I have a hard time believing the numbers. P.S. I love “my” kids and bend over backwards to help them achieve, no matter what their label.

    • ryan says

      It sounds to me like your arguments against the statistics are better suited for the CDC, not my blog.

      (P.S. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out)

  4. nightrunner says

    Really? Wow-just reporting what I have seen in public schools in the last 30+ years. Not arguing-just presenting facts/opinion. Thought you might like a professional’s opinion in the field-but I guess not. Funny how if one has different perspectives then they get blasted for it. Can’t back my “facts” but it’s personal experience that counts far more than “stats” and I have many other co-workers (SLPs and special ed teachers) who would stand right beside me and say the same thing. Doesn’t mean we don’t help kids whatever their label any less, it just means that the “facts” are skewed incorrectly high. Sounds as if you need to go for a run or something. Won’t be back. Don’t worry!

  5. Anna says

    Ryan, my son is autistic (recently diagnosed) want to know how i can get a pledge form and get others to light it up blue – i have gone to the site – submitted that will raise funds but would obviously like it more “official”
    A

    • ryan says

      I think if you pledge they get you on the mailing list and will make sure you have plenty of opportunities to setup fundraising, etc. Since it’s still a few months out I haven’t noticed anything coming from them yet, but I’m sure they will. If a few weeks have gone by and you still aren’t hearing anything, send me an email through my contact page and I’ll make sure you have plenty of opportunity to help out :) Good luck with your son. You’re doing amazing things for that boy!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Day.  We all deserve a better understand; a better diagnosis; and a better treatment.  Check our my friend Ryan’s post as a father of a son with Autism.  We can’t these things individually but we can bring awareness that Autism isn’t just a [...]

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