So many of our wonderful clients, both past and present, have come to us because of an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. And they’re not alone.
Last week, the CDC released findings that raised estimates about the number of children in the U.S. with autism to 1 in 88 (previously, it was estimated at 1 in 110). That’s roughly a million U.S. children and teens. And the incidence among boys is even higher — around 1 in 54. These figures are both saddening and alarming, and the fact that they’re based on data from 2008 means the picture could be even bleaker for children in 2112.
One of the many challenges faced by children “on the spectrum” — including those with related Asperger Syndrome — is that at first glance, you might not even know that a child has a diagnosis. In many cases, the symptoms are subtle, and hard to spot unless you’re looking for them — things like sensory and language issues, low muscle tone, social awkwardness, anxieties, and learning problems. Once revealed, these symptoms can result in children with autism being misunderstood and even mistreated by their peers, and even by school systems that are struggling to keep up with these rising statistics. Which is a shame, because as we can tell you, from working with these children in the pools, they are some of the most amazing, intelligent, brave, creative, and funniest people you’ll ever meet.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and April is Autism Awareness Month. Obviously, this is something that we at Angelfish Therapy and the families of our autistic clients are all-too-aware of every single day of the year. But if you’re not, then we hope you’ll take some time this month to educate yourself about the realities (and the fallacies) of an autism diagnosis. Because at 1-in-88, odds are, if you’re the parent of a school-aged child, he or she will have a classmate on the spectrum who will need your and/or your child’s understanding and patience. Not to mention, if we as a society ever hope to slow or reverse this epidemic in our lifetime, it will require all of us to understand what autism is in order to effect the changes needed.