LatinaLista — Today may be April 1, otherwise known in the United States as April Fool’s Day, but it’s also the start of a month-long observance of an affliction that is no laughing matter and gaining more attention — autism.
April is National Autism Awareness Month. This year marks the first time of raising awareness of the affliction since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised the autism prevalence rate to one in 110 children — “At no other point in recent history has the need for autism awareness been so important.”
No one really knows what causes autism but it does seem to afflict more boys than girls. A recent Reuters article about a Texas study found that Hispanic children are less likely than non-Hispanic white children to be diagnosed with autism. Yet, the researchers did say that the reason could be because of health insurance problems and lack of medical access, children with autism aren’t diagnosed until later in life.
However, there are also some striking symptoms of autism that children do display and just can’t be ignored:
Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
Difficulty in expressing needs, using gestures or pointing instead of words
Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
Laughing (and/or crying) for no apparent reason; showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
Preference to being alone; aloof manner
Difficulty in mixing with others
Not wanting to cuddle or be cuddled
Little or no eye contact
Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
Sustained odd play
Obsessive attachment to objects
Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
No real fears of danger
Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
Uneven gross/fine motor skills
Non-responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf, although hearing tests in normal range
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for autism.
So, what good does it do to be aware of an affliction that has no known cure — it teaches us tolerance.
Because those afflicted with autism have such unique “quirks,” instead of pointing and making comments about a child’s odd behavior, knowing what the symptoms of an autistic child are increases our level of awareness and, hopefully, boosts our tolerance levels for such behaviors.
Also, information should make us more sympathetic to the unique plight of these families dealing with autistic children. In turn, knowing the behavior and what sets it off, allows brainstorming within local communities to help provide “normal” experiences to these children and their families.
For example, across the country participating AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring a special opportunity for these families to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment on a monthly basis with the “Sensory Friendly Films” program.
In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is GoldenÂ®” policy will not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is questioned.
All in all, it just goes to show that Information goes a long way in putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes.