What affects more Americans than diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome combined?

Autism.

Over 2 million Americans fall under the umbrella of brain developmental disorders referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders. ASD creates social and behavioral challenges, which often include repetitive mannerisms. Researchers are yet to identify the cause, but attribute it to a combination of genetic make up and environmental factors.

Every spring, since 1970, the U.S. celebrates National Autism Awareness Month, so before April slips away I wanted to get on board. http://www.autism-society.org/

Although the exact cause of ASD remains a mystery, what specialists do know is that the numbers are increasing at an alarming rate. The CDC estimates as many as 1 in 88 children or 1 out of every 54 boys and one out of every 252 girls is born with ASD.

Statistics indicate that more than ten million individuals are afflicted worldwide. Five years ago the United Nations declared every April 2nd as World Autism Day. Across the continents, people are encouraging others to stand up for autism to increase awareness and funding for research. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csYs_aSXFcQ

Unfortunately in many parts of the globe, autistic children are institutionalized due to ignorance and lack of early intervention measures and public health programs. The more obvious signs of autism usually emerge between the age of 2 and 3 and behavioral therapies can be most effective the earlier the disorder is diagnosed. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html

A career change in my teaching role led to work in my school’s learning support department, which coincided with a time when I became more limited by illness and a medical treatment that required minimal light exposure and maximal eye protection. While walking in the shadows, wearing black glasses and gloves, I bump into obstacles. I am forced to see the environment through different parameters too. Working with special kids is a great fit; I am a quirky adult.

Everyone who has ever worked with ASD individuals knows that every step forward in understanding their universe is a move in the right direction for they may not have the capacity to understand ours. To comprehend the world of autism demands infinite patience and persistence, but the rewards are immeasurable.

Please take time to witness the triumph of an Asperger’s boy and basketball. Stand up and raise the roof for autism!

J Mac Greatest Basketball Story Ever