Today, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day... were you aware? I wasn't either until I heard it on the news this morning.
This is a fairly new event, having been legislated by the United Nations on December 18th 2007, and as such is one of only three disease-specific United Nations Days . The aim of the day? to raise awareness of the condition to the people of the world as a whole and impart the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Read more here...
So why should you care? In all reality I don't expect you to. If it's not your child, your family member, your area of work or research or interest I don't expect this to have any impact on you whatsoever.
I was asked on Twitter This morning by @rentedmule 'What is my favourite charity?'
My reply? A tough question for me, of course there is Autism, but there are others and they are mainly for personal reasons. I have a friend whose daughter has Cystic Fibrosis, and that's a big one. I've donated blood and collected money for Red Cross society on more than one occasion, I have a soft spot for Starlight foundation as they grant children with fatal diseases one last wish and I have done Shave for a cure, for people with Leukemia. The article appears here. Do I care about people who are rebuilding after Black Saturday for example... yes, of course, and I have donated to the cause, but they aren't as big a priority to me, as there are so many other things that have personal impact in my life.
I think the idea of Autism Awareness is fantastic, and having it as a UN legislated day shows to me just how much of an impact this condition is having on our world. The other thing I love? They focus on things like early intervention, not on chelation therapies, foods or 'cures'. Simply raising awareness. Wether a 'cure' will ever be found, or its more a matter of people with this condition learning to be able to intergrate better with the rest of us is not something I focus on.
I know there is genetics involved, I know a lot of people say that the 18 months vaccines 'cause' Autism (though personally I'm convinced that is not true, though it may accelerate certain traits), I know there is still so much unknown about the condition. I also know, for me personally, in my life, I have a boy who is bright, loving, smart, has a great sense of humour and is an intergral part of our family, who is Autistic.