For those of you unfamiliar with autism and its varied spectrum of disorders, take this month to learn more, as April is Autism Awareness Month. Additionally, through a UN resolution passed in 2007, April 2 is now officially World Autism Awareness Day. This UN resolution is one of only three official disease-specific United Nations Days and will bring the world’s attention to autism, a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions. The World Autism Awareness Day resolution encourages all Member States to take measures to raise awareness about autism throughout society and to encourage early diagnosis and early intervention.
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person’s lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Today, 1 in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. A random disorder, autism crosses all racial, ethnic, and social boundaries equally and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.
Across the globe, the autism community is celebrating its members and holding special events to raise awareness and money for research to find answers to the questions of its increasing prevalence in children in all regions of the world. One of the most successful events bringing this community together is the Autism Speaks Walk Now For Autism – Virtual Walk sponsored by Toys R Us.
This month we offer an introduction to this growing global health crisis and its premier advocacy organization, Autism Speaks. In our interview with actor John Schneider, whose roles span from television’s Dukes of Hazzard to Broadway’s musical hit, CHICAGO, Schneider offers insights to his personal experience with autism and talks about his greatest role, as a father with an autistic son.
As a former Development Director for Special Olympics Southern California I have had many opportunities to interact with children and adults affected by varying degrees of autism. I am amazed at the progress that Autism Speaks has made in the short years since its inception and hugely impressed that the organization has been able to galvanize so many of the major autism nonprofits to act with one voice in its efforts to find answers to autism’s cause and to support the research efforts in discovering a breakthrough.
I’m also happy to highlight two of our retailers in conjunction with our focus on autism – please take a couple of minutes to see how they each support Autism Speaks
This April, more than 500 Barnes & Noble stores around the country will host special autism Storytimes. Everyone who has been touched by autism should know about them. A complete listings of all the event times and locations can be found here.
We’ll have more on these retailers and others in our April newsletter – watch for it on the 6th. We’ll also introduce some of our new partners, keep you posted on our financial, tax and insurance services and give you the scoop on how to stop junk mail AND save trees at the same time.
Please make a commitment to become a do-er and keep Do Something in mind when looking for volunteer opportunities for teens, young adults and you this summer. We thank our gracious hostess Emme for her support here and her ongoing dedication to awakening the spirit of giving inherent in each of us.