By Eva Haishun
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the world. CDC identifies it as a “spectrum disorder,” which means that symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Autism is a complex condition that includes problems with communication and behavior. People with this disability have trouble understanding the thoughts and feelings of other people. It may be hard for individuals on the spectrum to express themselves through words and gestures.
CDC statistics show that in the last two decades, more and more children got an accurate diagnosis. In 2000, 6.7 out of 1000 children were diagnosed, while in 2018, 23 out of 1000 patients received the diagnosis. These rates do not mean that there are higher numbers of children with autism, but rather they signify the evolved diagnostic practices. The reasons for autism are not understood, and any child can be affected. According to Healthline, it might be caused by the problems in the parts of the brain that interpret sensory input and process language. The risk factors may include a few components: autism runs in the family, increasing the risk of developing gene mutation; there are higher numbers of children born with autism from older parents than from younger parents. Even though there is a rumor that vaccination causes autism, there is no evidence to prove this claim.
As autism is a complicated condition, it can be difficult for doctors to identify it. According to Autism Speaks, it is important to watch out for the early symptoms and run a series of questionnaires and checklists with the medical professional. As autism can be manifested in a wide range of symptoms and severity, it is possible for people to only be diagnosed in adulthood. For a person living with the condition for years, a diagnosis can finally answer the many questions they may have had. For many adults, it serves as an expiation to the question of why they find doing certain things harder than other people or why they may be struggling with communication and are uncomfortable in social settings.
The nationwide campaign was launched by the Autism Society to ensure that all individuals on the spectrum have a chance to achieve the highest quality of life. The first Autism Awareness Week took place in 1972, and it subsequently evolved into an entire month to spread awareness, promote acceptance, and ignite change. Several students have expressed interest in this cause. Lucia Berry, a senior communication sciences and disorders student, has worked with Adelphi Bridges in the past, and therefore she followed updates on the events. She said, “I saw the Light it up Blue social media campaign and wanted to participate and raise awareness about the cause.” According to Autism Speaks, blue is the organization's primary color, and it is associated with a calm feeling and acceptance. Adelphi University has supported the movement by promoting the "Light it up Blue" campaign on social media and by organizing a debate in the Autism Community on the controversial topic of "Light it up Blue vs. Red instead."
Some students’ curiosity to learn more about people on the spectrum has extended beyond the campus walls. Dylan Norby, a freshman nursing student, has assisted families with autistic children over the summer. He has learned a lot through that challenging and rewarding experience. While he did not participate in any on-campus events this year. He has brought up change to several families by helping them over the summer.
There are many ways to celebrate this month of autism acceptance, and art is one of them. Adelphi University has organized a Bridges Got Talent show that showcases a neurodivergent theater group. The group will be able to show off their many talents on April 30 in University Center room 203. In addition to that, there is also a possibility to help the community. A Yard Sale is taking place on April 27, and all will be benefiting Autistic Self Advocacy Network.