But now he speaks not just words, but entire sentences. He happily goes to pre-school. He interacts with other children. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been months of speech therapy. Behavioral therapy. Occupational therapy. And patience by his parents. Infinite patience.
It’s estimated that two million people in this country are affected by autism spectrum disorder. Later last Saturday morning I joined thousands of them in a fundraising walk. The walkers were a cross-section of society. All ages, all colors, all economic levels. Many were accompanied by children, both with or without autism. What struck me was that I couldn’t tell the difference. Unlike other disorders, autism is not always visible.
While the event’s purpose was to raise money, it also was to raise awareness of autism beyond the stereotypes. To speak for children who are unable to speak for themselves. For children unable to call out, “Good morning, grandpa … good morning, grandpa.”
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT AUTISM
• In 2018 the Centers for Disease Control determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
• Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
• Most children were still being diagnosed after age 4, though autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 2.
• 31% of children with ASD have an intellectual disability.
• Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
• Minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often.
• There is no medical detection for autism.
• Research indicates that genetics are involved in the vast majority of cases.
• Children born to older parents are at a higher risk for having autism.
• Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is an link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.