It’s Autism Awareness Month!

April 2, 2015

Happy Autism Awareness month!  You wonder why we’re celebrating?  If you’ve ever known someone with autism, you’ll know why we celebrate!  People with autism are unique and wonderful.  They see the world in a different way and if we can understand that, we can learn something new.  Those with high functioning autism can be fascinating to talk to because of the huge amount of knowledge they often possess in a field that interests them.  And they can challenge us to expand the way we see the world and the people in it.

If you’re interested in facts, here’s a few facts about autism.  Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in 68 children in the United States and has increased 100% in the past 10 years.   Over 2,000,000 people in the United States alone are affected by autism.  Boys are five times more likely than girls to have autism.  Autism can be reliably diagnosed by the age of two, although adults in their 40s and 50s are now finding that they have had autism all of their life.  It generally begins before the age of 3 and will last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Autism is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain, but it is not a disease or an illness and it is not contagious.  Each individual with autism exhibits different characteristics, but common signs include sensory difficulties (hyper/hypo sensitivities with vision, hearing and touch), communication difficulties, social skills difficulties and executive function difficulties (organization, planning, working memory, inhibitions).  Autism can affect people of all races, economic levels and cognitive abilities. 

Famous people from the past who are believed to have had autism are Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Amadeus Mozart, Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll, Pablo Picasso, Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.  In the Lexington Public Schools, we have 29 students verified with autism who just may follow in the footsteps of these famous people.  That’s why we celebrate!  We have a chance to make a difference in the lives of these unique people with autism.  In fact, we can make a difference in the lives of everyone with whom we come in contact!  So – today – go out and celebrate autism.  Learn something new.  Treat everyone in your path with respect.