April 2nd is recognized internationally as World Autism Awareness Day. For the past 11 years, this day has been used to raise awareness, increase understanding, and foster worldwide support for the millions of people affected by autism. In recognition of people living with autism, landmarks, buildings, homes, and communities around the world will be bathed in blue light.
According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014, 1 in 68 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder. While autism is more prevalent in boys than girls, there are no ethnic, socioeconomic, or age group indicators. Because there is no cure for autism, the best opportunity for improved outcomes is through early diagnosis and intervention.
Early detection is critically important, but because the onset and severity of autism vary widely from child to child, it can be elusive. The following indications may be a “red flag” that a child is at risk of autism and warrants further testing.
- No social smiles or joyful expressions directed at people by 6 months of age
- Limited or no eye contact by 6 months
- By 9 months, no vocalizations, smiles or other nonverbal communication
- No babbling, gesturing to communicate like pointing or reaching by 12 months
- By 12 months, the child doesn’t respond when their name is called
- No words by 16 months
- No two-word phrases by 24 months
- The child loses any previously acquired speech, babbling, or social skills
It is important to note that some children without autism will exhibit some of these indicators just as some children with autism may not indicate all of them. These general traits merely demonstrate that further evaluation is necessary.
There are several ways to participate in World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd or any of the events that are scheduled throughout the month. For those of you who are active on social media take a special “selfie” using the selfie sign from autismspeaks.org and be sure to use the hashtag #LightItUpBlue when you post it. You can also change out your porch lights with blue bulbs and wear blue all month long!
In the comment section below, tell us how you plan to get involved in autism awareness events. You can also join the discussion on our Facebook page.