Next month, the month of April, is designated as National Autism Awareness Month. Autism is a developmental disability that usually makes itself known within the first three years of a child's life. According to the Autism Society:
"Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today."
Autism is a complex disorder and even with years of testing and research no single known cause has been determined. However, is is widely accepted that that it is caused by abnormalities in brain function or structure. While there are a number of theories about what causes autism such as genetics, heredity and medical issues, there is no definitive answer. As noted on the Autism Society website; while no one has actually discovered and "autism gene" there does appear to be a notable pattern in some families of autism and/or related disorders. It also appears that some children may be predisposed to developing autism. However, there is nothing that has been found that could be an actual cause or trigger.
So why the puzzle piece? As I mentioned, while researchers have found patterns and have long suspected certain environmental factors, there is a piece of a puzzle that is missing and that piece - when discovered - could mean a cure, which is why April is designated as National Autism Awareness Month. The more awareness that can be raised means more money for research, education, and support for families affected by autism.
While fundraising does occur throughout the year, during National Autism Awareness month there are even more fundraisers, events and news stories that bring attention and shine a big bright spotlight on this disorder.
So start now, spread the word early and let everyone know that April is National Autism Awareness Month!!!
For more information about Autism you can visit:
Autism Society ~ www.autism_society.org
Autism Speaks ~ www.autismspeaks.org
Autism Research Institute ~ www.autism.com