Be aware, make a statement, support autism

DeRon Talley

Coastal erosion is probably Louisiana’s biggest enemy and there are numerous programs being done to help maintain our wetlands. However a fight that’s approaching the country at a rapid pace that many aren’t aware of is autism. The rate of diagnosed children is dropping fast, but unlike coastal erosion per say, there isn’t much being done to help our children.

Sure, land is very important to the state and country, but what about livelihood. According to the Center for Disease and control one in 68 children are being diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dropped from one in 88 last year at this time. The year before it was one in 110 children.

Yes, coastal erosion is increasing rapidly, but that is no excuse to ignore that ASD cases are increasing as well. If we go sit in a school’s cafeteria we can pull out 68 students, there will be one with ASD. It’s time to we know the signs, become aware of them and do something about it.

ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys than among girls, according to the CDC. About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism. And, ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

In Ascension Parish, we know there is a strong presence of children with ASD and it’s good that our Parish President Tommy Martinez proclaimed this April as Autism Awareness Month, but we need to do more than make a proclamation to show support. We need to support in physical efforts.

I went to the Baton Rouge Active for Autism event last weekend and there were hundreds of people there all to raise awareness, educate the public and raise money for research.

In Gonzales, Project Kidz Kove is being developed as a park for special needs children and I hope it becomes the start of a movement geared to support physically our children who are diagnosed with ASD. It’s time Ascension comes together to help solve the missing piece in the puzzle.

There is still a lot to learn about ASD, but research on it has increased a great deal in recent years and the CDC is part of the larger group of public and private organizations working to better understand ASD through research.

Like the many families living with ASD, the CDC considers ASD an important public health concern and says it is committed to continuing to provide essential data on ASD, search for risk factors and causes, and develop resources that help identify children with ASD as early as possible.

If the CDC can do its part from a national reach, we need to do ours here locally. ASD isn’t biased, it doesn’t stereotype or single out certain families. When I decide to have a child, it could be next. Maybe it could be yours or already is yours. Bottom line is we need to be aware and we must support because it does take a village to raise a child.