For thousands of parents in the Philadelphia area it was probably one of the most devastating things they will ever hear: Your child has Autism.
Starting on April 1st, the nation recognizes Autism Awareness Month which should be a significant sign as to how serious a diagnosis Autism is; they get a whole month.
World Autism Awareness Day is on April 2nd.
This year in particular all parents, not just parents of Autistic children, have something they need to be aware of.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), in 2002 1 in 150 kids were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Now they’re saying that it’s 1-88. Boys are still more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder (1-54) than girls (1-262). They are also now reporting that there has been a significant increase with the number of Latino children being diagnosed (1-125).
The CDC also feels that time will tell whether there’s an actual increase or that children being diagnosed earlier along with awareness about Autism accounts for the jump in numbers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that all children be tested around the age of 18 months. The problem with that is the diagnosis of the disorder requires doctors to be adequately trained in Autism. There is also a long battery of tests that also have to be performed and that also requires specialists. All this costs money.
Fortunately in Philadelphia, there are a couple of hospitals, but CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) is the best one. They are the leaders in the field of Autism research as well. It’s because of this that the hospital usually has a waiting list of parents trying to get their kids in to be tested. The testing usually takes several hours plus the consultation with the doctor.
It’s important to get your child tested early. The earlier the diagnosis, the more successful the treatment is. That’s the good news: Autism is treatable as long as the parents are willing to entrust the treatment in the hands of capable professionals such as ChildLink, the Center for Autism, and wrap-around agencies such as Pennsylvania Mentor and Greentree. It’s also important for the parents to be a part of the process no matter how difficult it is.
What Autism is not, however, is curable. Regardless of what Jenny McCarthy and other whack-a-doodles say, Autism is not curable; that once your child is diagnosed with Autism, they will always be Autistic. No diet, prayer, refusal of vaccines, or treatment will ever change that.
So, in honor of Autism Awareness month, when you meet a parent with an Autistic child don’t repel. It’s not cooties; you can’t catch it. Sit down and get to know them. You’ll grow from the experience and the parent will be happy someone isn’t afraid of their Autistic child.