Today, our country is in the midst of a major epidemic. Our children are being overtaken by a debilitating disorder that leaves them and their families devastated. The Center for Disease Control estimates that one in one hundred fifty children are born with this affliction. In fact, more children will be diagnosed with this disorder this year than juvenile AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. With so many people affected it is hard to believe that there is so little being done to stop the widespread effect of this ailment (Autism Speaks). The disorder in question is autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism is a complex disorder that affects both the sufferers and their families and deserves awareness and funding. Though little is known about autism there are many strides that are being made in order to treat and better understand the disorder as a whole.
[...] There is a large social group in Bloomington, Illinois that is run through the psychology department at Illinois Wesleyan University. This group has been very successful in its nine years of existence and encourages other campuses to get involved in a similar way. Until recently the United States government has done very little in terms of funding for autism research and aid. In fact, less than was being spent on research funding than is spent on less prevalent childhood diseases. [...]
[...] In respite care a person is hired by the family to come to the home and either takes the child out for an hour or two for different activities or stays at home and let the parents go out for awhile. Respite care people usually come about once a week and are a great resource for family members in this stressful lifestyle. To provide respite to a family a person should talk to the teachers in the special education department of a school to see which families need assistance. [...]
[...] ABA focuses on teaching small components of a larger task and slowly building up. It also relies on empirical data to show progress or problem areas in the child's learning. Correct answers and good behavior are rewarded with praise or treats, depending on the child, while bad behavior or incorrect answers are not reinforced. Inappropriate behaviors are also corrected and dealt with in an empirical manner. The therapist takes time to document behaviors and figure out what causes or reinforces these inappropriate behaviors and measures are taken to correct them. [...]
[...] An older theory is that the high levels of mercury in the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine that is administered at about two years can cause autism. This theory has never been proved but there is a great amount of speculation because vaccine makers have since begun to use much less mercury in injections. This argument has since been debunked as there are no statistically significant studies to support this hypothesis. Other researchers believe that there are more physiological factors involved in the possible causes of autism. [...]
[...] Citizens can make a difference in helping raise money for autism research and general aid. Writing to senators and representatives in large numbers will encourage more discussion in legislation. People can also make donations to autism awareness groups like Autism Speaks over the internet or by mail. There are also fundraising walks that benefit autistic people. Walk now events occur year round across the nation as well as Canada and the United Kingdom and raise more money than all other events sponsored by Autism Speaks. [...]
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