Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Throughout the month of April, which is Autism Awareness Month, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) will be shining a Spotlight on Autism through an online campaign featuring an interactive “spotlight” and a downloadable poster that anyone can print and display in their home or business.
OPWDD proudly supports more than 30,000 New Yorkers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The word “spectrum” is important in understanding ASD because it refers to the wide range of behavioral signs, symptoms and degrees of severity that affect individuals. Each individual on the autism spectrum is just that – an individual. Their unique characteristics and needs are specific to them alone.
Over the past 20 years, autism and autism spectrum disorders have been the fastest-growing diagnosis among developmental disabilities in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 59 children have ASD, and encourages parents to track their child’s development from birth to 5 years to ensure certain milestones are met. If parents have a concern, they should seek assistance immediately from their own doctor. The CDC also offers Act Early Ambassadors in each state that serve as a point of contact for the national Learn the Signs. Act Early program. For more information, visit the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/index.html.
Yesterday we celebrated World Autism Awareness Day by joining in the international “Light it up Blue” campaign to raise awareness on social media, and you can continue to show your support throughout the month. Don’t forget to include the #LightItUpBlue and #NYSOPWDD tags in your posts!
Theodore Kastner, MD, MS