In my last posted a spoke a little on why autism is a cause I care so deeply for. Three years ago Autism was something I had heard of and seen ribbons for however, that all changed when one of my sons best friends got diagnosed. They say your friends are the family you choose, and that’s exactly how I feel about Caleb and his family. Upon hearing his diagnosis I knew the first thing I needed to do was educate myself as much as possible. His mom was my biggest teacher -still is!- and would always share with me what he was doing in his therapies and school. The milestones, the ups, the downs, and how we could more effectively interact with him. She is a total warrior mom and her passion for her son is downright contagious. I found myself always wanting to know more.
So being that today is Autism Awareness Day, I wanted to share a couple of facts with you all:
- In March of 2012, the CDC reported that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in 88 births.
- According to the Autism Society, it has a seen a 10-17% annual growth.
- Since symptoms and intensity can vary widely, it is considered a “spectrum disorder.”
The Dan Marino Foundation lists these common characteristics of individuals with autism:
While these statistics and characteristics give you a general idea of what autism is and looks like, they are just that. Statistics and characteristics. Autism does not define a person, it’s something they have, and if I’ve learned anything from interacting with these kids it’s that they are just like any other child. Sure there may be sensory issues, speech delays, or an occasional tantrum, but at the end of the day they’re kids. They want to have fun, they want to be loved, and they want their voices heard whether it’s verbally or through the help of a device like a PECS board or ipad. It’s up to us to spread knowledge and tolerance awareness. For example, you may see a 6 year old throwing a “tantrum” at the grocery store, when in reality they’re experiencing a sensory overload. Personally, I believe autism awareness includes adding a little bit of compassion to our everyday lives in general, because you never know what someone is truly going through. A little extra kindness in this world would do us all good!
I look forward to seeing greater advancements in autism research, and eventually a cure. As far as my photography goes, I promise to keep educating myself so I may continue to provide a fun and stress free option for families of special needs children, because portraits ARE possible!