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Autism Awareness: Autism 101

autism ribbon

April is Autism Awareness Month.  According to the CDC, autism now affects 1:68 children, and the number keeps increasing.  Around the world, major landmarks are lit with blue lights -- the signature color of the non-profit Autism Speaks. Learn more about autism and it's impact.

Intro to Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorders Spotlight10

Five Reasons to Celebrate Our Autistic Children's Small Victories

Monday April 14, 2014

Every day, we're reminded that our child or children with autism are "challenged," "disabled," and otherwise unable to come up to society's expectations.  That hurts.  But we're practical and realistic; we swallow the negative feelings and move forward.  Of course, soldiering on is part of parenting any child with a disability.

proud dad with sonBut there's more to it -- there's the good part!

Except in the rarest of cases, children with autism are always growing and progressing.  In fact, adults with autism are ALSO growing and progressing.  Yes, it may be slower...  and no, progress may not be unlimited..  but our children are doing more every day.  And that's cause for celebration.

Think celebration is a luxury you don't need to indulge in?  Here are five reasons why we can and should celebrate our autistic children's small victories!

How My Kid With Autism Learned to Play the Clarinet

Thursday April 10, 2014

Hey, look! My amazing kid with autism can play the clarinet!  He plays solos...  he plays in theaters...  he plays in bands...  he plays in camp...  he plays in the junior symphony!

Sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it?

Before you jump to any conclusions, take a few minutes to read "How My Kid with Autism Learned to Play the Clarinet."

The journey has been long, difficult, expensive, and ... in our opinion...  well worth all it cost.  So far!

(Coming next: how my kid with autism learned to play the bassoon!)

Five Ways to Become Your Child's Autism Therapist

Monday April 7, 2014

blowing bubblesParents get hands-on involved with their children's autism therapy for many different reasons -- to save money, to find more quality parent-child time, to provide higher quality experiences for their child, or simply because they find the opportunity interesting and worthwhile.  Whatever their reasons, many parents find that being an autism therapist for their is actually quite a lot of fun, very rewarding, and a great way to bond.  This article explores five models for becoming your child's autism therapist!

Of course, it's important to bear in mind that almost every child with autism will have more than one therapist -- and it is virtually impossible for a parent to provide the entire gamut of supports required to help a child with autism to improve speech, dexterity, social skills, and other challenges.  But that doesn't mean that mom or dad don't have a great deal to offer.


World Autism Awareness Day Achieves Mainstream Status

Wednesday April 2, 2014

Macau Tower Lit Up BlueWell, it's World Autism Awareness Day, and by golly the world is now very, very aware of autism.  From the Empire State Building to the Sydney Opera House to the Macau Tower pictured in the photo, buildings are lit up blue as part of the Autism Speaks awareness initiative.   There are events, programs, symposiums, special parades, walks, marches...  in short, autism seems to have achieved the kind of status that were once reserved for more well-known and common disorders such as breast cancer, muscular dystrophy, and the like.

Of course, for the most part, these events are about and not for people with autism -- but that's not unusual.  Galas, fundraisers, parties and other lavish fundraising events rarely involve those people for whom funds are being raised.  How typical is this approach?  If you're like me, you may remember a Frasier episode in which Frasier's brother, Niles, is mortified at being left off the invite list for the Hoedown for the Homeless -- a gala event at which the hoi poloi rub elbows, far far away from any hint of  homelessness!

Perhaps the most impressive (to me) sign that autism has now achieved Major Status comes from DisneyWorld, where the posh Swan and Dolphins have "lit it up blue" and...according to a press release, "In addition, one of the hotel's signature restaurants, Todd English's bluezoo has created a specialty blue cocktail, named blue sparkler, in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Through April 30th proceeds from sales of the drink will be donated to the Princeton House Charter School, an Orlando area school for children with autism. The blue sparkler is a mixture of pavan liqueur, Florida 4 orange vodka, sparkling wine with orange and vanilla syrup."

So autism now has its signature adult beverage, its signature color, and its signature events -- and, presumably, has become a part of the charitable mainstream.

How do you feel about all this?  Share your  thoughts!


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