April is Autism Awareness Month
Scotch Plains, NJ
On April 1, 2015, the White House released a Presidential Proclamation from President Obama:
“On World Autism Awareness Day, our Nation recognizes all those around the globe who live on the autism spectrum. We celebrate the countless ways they strengthen our communities and enrich our world – and we reaffirm their fundamental rights to participate fully in society, live with respect, and achieve their greatest potential.
In the United States, millions of adults and young people live with autism spectrum disorder, including 1 out of every 68 children. They are our colleagues, classmates, friends, and loved ones, and they each have something to contribute to the American story. In large cities and small towns, individuals with autism live independent and productive lives, and our Nation is better because of their unique talents and perspectives. Their example reminds us that all people have inherent dignity and worth, and that everyone deserves a fair shot at opportunity.
My Administration is committed to helping Americans with autism fulfill their potential by ensuring access to the resources and programs they need. The Affordable Care Act prohibits companies from denying health insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as autism, and the law also requires most insurance plans to cover preventive services — including autism and developmental screenings for young children — without copays. Last year, I was proud to sign the Autism CARES Act of 2014, which bolstered training and educational opportunities for professionals serving children or adults on the autism spectrum. And as part of the BRAIN Initiative, we continue to invest in innovative research that aims to revolutionize our understanding of conditions like autism and improve the lives of all who live with them.
The greatness of our Nation lies in the diversity of our people. When more Americans are able to pursue their full measure of happiness, it makes our Union more perfect and uplifts us all. Today, let us honor advocates, professionals, family members, and all who work to build brighter tomorrows alongside those with autism. Together, we can create a world free of barriers to inclusion and full of understanding and acceptance of the differences that make us strong.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2, 2015, World Autism Awareness Day. I encourage all Americans to learn more about autism and what they can do to support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.”
President Obama proclaimed April 2, 2015 as World Autism Awareness Day. The entire month of April is dedicated to Autism Awareness. It is a wonderful opportunity for organizations and the general population to promote autism awareness, acceptance, as well as draw attention to the population of children and adults diagnosed with autism each year. Whether it is presidential/congressional declarations, discussions on the internet, local events hosted by organizations, schools and families, there are many events being held during the month to spread awareness.
As per the Autism Speaks Organization’s website, “PDD-NOS stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. Psychologists and psychiatrists sometimes use the term “pervasive developmental disorders” and “autism spectrum disorders” (ASD) interchangeably. As such, PDD-NOS became the diagnosis applied to children or adults who are on the autism spectrum but do not fully meet the criteria for another ASD such as autistic disorder (sometimes called “classic” autism) or Asperger Syndrome.
Like all forms of autism, PDD-NOS can occur in conjunction with a wide spectrum of intellectual ability. Its defining features are significant challenges in social and language development.
Some developmental health professionals refer to PDD-NOS as “subthreshold autism.” In other words, it’s the diagnosis they use for someone who has some but not all characteristics of autism or who has relatively mild symptoms. For instance, a person may have significant autism symptoms in one core area such as social deficits, but mild or no symptoms in another core area such as restricted, repetitive behaviors.”
Sometimes a child with learning and behavioral differences doesn’t meet all the diagnostic criteria for Asperger Syndrome or Autism, which can lead to a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. Below are some characteristics of PDD-NOS:
• Atypical or inappropriate social behavior
• Uneven skill development (motor, sensory, visual-spatial organizational, cognitive, social, academic, behavioral)
• Poorly developed speech and language comprehension skills
• Difficulty with transitions
• Deficits in nonverbal and/or verbal communication
• Increased or decreased sensitivities to taste, sight, sound, smell and/or touch
• Perseverative (repetitive or ritualistic) behaviors (i.e., opening and closing doors repeatedly or switching a light on and off)
Autism Society is an organization that promotes autism awareness through their various events, internet campaigns, and online presence. The Autism Society National Conference and Exposition, July 12-15, 2017 is coming soon! This year’s keynotes will include panel conversations led by several well-known authors who have written many books on autism. A Harley Davidson Museum visit and tailgate party is taking place to raise awareness and money. (http://www.autism-society.org/)
“The Autism Awareness puzzle ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Autism prevalence is now one in every 68 children in America. People show support for those with autism by wearing ribbon pins, placing magnets on their cars, placing badges on their blogs and even posting an image of one on their social media sites (http://www.autism-society.org).”
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