Chances are you may know someone dealing with an autism spectrum disorder.

A little under thirty years ago, the prevalence of someone having an autism diagnosis was low, comparatively, to what it is today. Families knew about autism, of course, and its more dramatic characteristics, such as the non-verbal rocking, flapping arm movements and awkward gait. Often left untreated, school-age children with autism would go to limited classrooms comprised of students with assorted learning and developmental difficulties.

Our understanding of autism today has come a long way. We realize that autism disorder is comprised of a spectrum of differences that range from mild to severe, and may not always mean the person cannot learn. This greater understanding has led to various treatments and therapies designed to help achieve a more inclusive way of life. Focused awareness campaigns also help to teach the rest of us about autism and the various challenges faced by those who live with it every day.

Knowing the rate of reported mental illness is around 20 to 25 percent of the population, and the current rate of autism being one-in-50, this might mean that approximately half of the mental illness under treatment could be associated with someone with an autism spectrum disorder. In short, this number is huge and growing. Less than ten years ago, the prevalence was one-in-150; three times less than the present number. More adults are seeking help for autism, sensing the alignment of their challenges as being on the spectrum.

The increased awareness is also shedding light on how we handle autism spectrum disorders. Early intervention begins with screenings at younger ages, while children are developing. Parenting support has increased along with therapies for youngsters to gain increased social skills that celebrate their abilities and achievements. Funding for autism research and treatments continues.

This includes greater understanding of sensory processing disorders and how the mind and stomach interact. It also means greater scrutiny of environmental and other influences that affect our genetic composition and changes. Controversial debate continues on whether plastics, genetically-modified foods, chemicals, drugs, better screening tests, and other factors have all converged in some way to cause the tsunami of autism diagnoses.

Before the month of April ends, please make the effort to find out more about autism and approach the subject from a position of education and wonder. With three children on the spectrum, goodness knows I meet each day in my life with gratitude and curiosity. Our children do teach us quite a lot.

Namaste ~ Blessings!

Kathy Custren is a mother of four, who strives for balance and has a deep respect for All. Interests include advocacy, the arts, communication, education, health, humanity's cosmic origins, nature, philosophy, spirituality and wellness. Visit her page "Consciousness Live" on Facebook, and her site at kathyc-mindblogger.blogspot.com.

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Comment by Trevor Taylor on May 14, 2013 at 10:24am

Kathy, great - into one of the June Multi-Media editions...

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