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April marks Autism Awareness Month

April 2, 2008 3:30:15 PM PDT
Autism affects about one in every 150 children born in the U.S.While there's been a lot of research to find a cause, so far none has been determined. To draw more attention to disorder, April has been established as Autism Awareness Month.

Gym time at Molloy Education Center in Morton Grove. Children with autism are blowing off some steam and making progress.

"Every little step that a student makes is a huge step for me, it's tiring, but it is definitely fulfilling," said Justin Thorsen, special education teacher.

Wednesday is the first ever World Autism Awareness Day.

They're wearing ribbons and spreading the message that autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder. Principal Michael Meyers says the number of children with autism in his district has more than doubled in the past ten years.

"It's probably our fastest growing population, and it's the population that we've probably spent the most time in the last year or so in terms of curriculum development," said Meyers.

On this World Autism Awareness Day, there is a new study out. It finds that about a quarter of preemies show early signs of autism, suggesting that premature babies may face greater risks of developing autism than previously thought.

Last month, for the first time, the federal government recommended that compensation be awarded to a family in Georgia who believes vaccines aggravated a rare pre-existing condition that led to their daughter's autism.

Gary Kaplan, father of an autistic child, isn't convinced vaccines are the cause.

"Once your child has autism, trying to figure out the cause is a nice thing to do, I suppose...but it's not...as a parent what you're really dealing with is how to deal with your child," said Kaplan.

Many parents say living with a child, who has autism, has its challenges and rewards. Having a day for awareness is to help make more people understand that.

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