In 1970, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness and assure that anyone affected by autism is able to achieve the highest quality of life possible. In 1972, the Autism Society launched the first annual National Autistic Children’s week, which evolved into National Autism Awareness Month (NAAM). Last month (April), the society continued their efforts to spread awareness, promote acceptance, and bring about change.
The theme for this year was “Celebrate Differences”. This campaign was designed to build a better awareness of the signs, symptoms, and realities of autism, #CelebrateDifferences focuses on providing information and resources for communities to be more aware of autism, promote acceptance, and be more inclusive in everyday life.
Dr. Dan Siegel has written “We can observe variations in neural architecture through advances in technology which enable us to see that, for some individuals, an ‘atypical’ neural pattern emerges in which the brain is larger even in utero (Eric Courchesne PhD), and then continues to show more neurons but less differentiated connections (Marcus E. Raichle).” The term scientists use for this “condition” or neurological variation from “typical” development is Autism Spectrum. There are those who formally call this a “disorder,” and it is important to realize that problems adapting to our common experiences are common for individuals with this neurological make-up.
It is true we need to look for “causes” for this variation but we also need to stay calm in the face of our understandable distress in relation to it. Many researchers are seeing an increase in those being diagnosed with this condition while others are reporting the condition to be misdiagnosed. That being said, even if the increase that might really be there is less than what we thought, we still need to think deeply about what might be the most helpful strategies for families and individuals struggling with this spectrum of challenges. Dr. Siegel has summarized the wisdom of clinicians along with the input of those individuals who have been living with individuals that are on the spectrum.
He believes there are 3 major issues: 1. Social communication; 2. Sensory Integration; and 3. Emotional Regulation. In our next blog we will be sharing with you the wisdom of Dr. Siegel in these areas.
The Center has 2 clinicians who specialize in treating children and teens with autism, Dr. Brie Turns (PhD, LAMFT), and Pam Bonilla (MS, LAC, AutPlay). If you would like to read more about the Centers work with autistic children please click on the link.