Each April we celebrate World Autism Month, beginning with United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. On this day, the Wells Fargo lights are scheduled to be blue, kicking off the month-long celebration. Throughout the month, we share stories and provide opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering a supportive community.
A key factor in the long term prognosis of both a child and their family is recognizing a delay and ACTING on it as soon as possible. The sooner a child begins to receive help, the sooner the child can begin to thrive. The sooner the family starts to understand how to help their child, both in the short and long term, the sooner the family can move forward. In the past 10 years, we have made strides in bringing the signs of autism to the public awareness, and therefore more children have been able to receive an earlier diagnosis and get the support they need. But there are still many families who do not know the signs or how to access help.
The CDC currently estimates that 1:54 children will be diagnosed with autism. Of the estimated 71,000 children under 5 years old living in Mecklenburg County, that means over 1,300 children right now may have autism.
One resource available to families is Guiding Parents to Services; a funded program of Smart Start of Mecklenburg County which works with families of young children who have been diagnosed with ASD, or have families with concerns about ASD. Our Autism Family Resource Guide is available in print and online, and outlines what is typical development versus areas of concern, steps towards getting services, diagnostic information, as well as other local resources.
Please help us reach those families that may not be aware of what to look for, or how to get help by sharing this resource. EVERY child deserves the chance to thrive!