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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).