According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 1 in 88 children in the United States have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. That means that as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form of autism, including in excess of 90,000 Virginians. At this time, autism is not a reportable health condition in Virginia, so the only data available is that provided by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). In 1998 VDOE reported 1,521 children identified with ASD. This number increased to 14,624 students as of 2012.
When I started working with children with autism nearly 20 years ago, people were not aware. Remember that great scene in “Rain Man” when the nurse asks Charlie Babbit if his brother is “artistic”? It seems funny now, but even many medical professionals were clueless back then. Thankfully, those days are gone and virtually everyone knows that autism exists. So here at Families of Autistic Children in Tidewater (F.A.C.T.), I’m advocating Autism Action month. Whether you “light it up blue” for autism speaks, run a 5K, attend a seminar, make a donation, or read a book to enhance your understanding; I urge you to do something!