April is Autism Awareness Month

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When most people think of the month of April, they think “April showers bring May flowers.”  What some people may not know is that this infamous month of rain is also Autism Awareness Month.

Autism awareness ribbon.

Autism, as defined by PubMed Health, is “…a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills.”

Though there is no known cause for Autism, a number of genetic factors can be involved.  They are factors such as chromosomal abnormalities and the body’s inability to properly use vitamins and minerals.

PubMed also states, “All children should have routine developmental exams done by their pediatrician. Further testing may be needed if the doctor or parent is concerned. This is particularly true if a child fails to meet any of the following language milestones:

  • Babbling by 12 months
  • Gesturing (pointing, waving bye-bye) by 12 months
  • Saying single words by 16 months
  • Saying two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months (not just echoing)
  • Losing any language or social skills at any age”

There is no cure for Autism as of right now, however, there are a number of therapies to help a child, or adult, who has been diagnosed with Autism.  Some of these therapies include applied behavior analysis, a variety of medications, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy.

For more information on what Autism is, how to get involved, and for events and services, there is an organization called Autism Speaks.  Autism Speaks has a mission in which they state that they want to have “funding [for] global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.”

For more information on Autism Speaks, go to http://www.autismspeaks.org

Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002494/ ; http://www.autismspeaks.com ; Google Images

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