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Author Bio: Lorrie Servati is a mom, paraprofessional and autism advocate for her almost eleven year old son. She has also returned to college to acquire her teaching certificate in special education. Lorrie shares her son’s progress on his autism journey since he was diagnosed six years ago. Visit her blog, Nathan’s Voice, for online Resources for Families.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Do YOU know why?!? Because it’s when parents, like myself, and families that have children with Autism get what they deserve the most… attention and support!! The entire month of April is recognized as Autism Awareness Month and, of course, I have not forgotten that April 2nd was declared by the United Nations as World Autism Awareness Day back in 2007. My own family, and many other families that have loved ones with autism, will be celebrating and raising autism awareness throughout our communities, across the nation and around the world. Join us as we unite as one to shine a very bright light on the growing epidemic known as autism!

You have probably heard the word “autism” but, you may not know exactly what autism is. Autism can best be described as a brain disorder that impairs the development of a child’s social behavior and communication. It now affects an average of 1 in 68 children, over a 30% increase of from the previously reported 1 in 88 children in the United States back in 2008.[1]  Autism has literally become a serious epidemic, affecting more children than diabetes, AIDS, cancer cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down Syndrome combined. An estimated 1 in 42 boys  and 1 in 189 girls are affected by autism in the United States, almost 5 times more boys than girls. Autism Spectrum Disorders affect more than 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions around the world.

With autism rates on the rise, parents are being urged to learn the early signs of autism.[2] If a parent thinks their child may be displaying developmental delays in communication, social and/or motor skills, they should get their child evaluated immediately. Early detection and intervention have been proven to give a child the best chance in reaching their potential. There is no cure for autism but, treatment including intensive behavior therapy will enable many children to function better.

Please join us as we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day this coming Wednesday on April 2, 2014. Doing something as simple as changing your social profile picture to something blue, replacing the light bulb on your porch with a blue one, by wearing anything blue or by handing out goodie bags that day, to area service providers, will help to raise autism awareness in your community. The world needs to know we are the voice for those children who haven’t been diagnosed yet, are unfortunately misunderstood and in need of the treatment that will help them. We encourage everyone to participate in support of all individuals with autism and share with everyone about World Autism Awareness Day. Thank you for helping us shine a light on Autism!

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[2] Autism Speaks