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April 2014: National Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month, also known as NAAM, and has been celebrated since the 1970s. Autism is a developmental disability that is often seen within the first three years of life. As the prevalence of autism continues to rise, it is important to get in the know and get involved!

NAAM is working hard to spread the truth about autism and create an increasingly better environment for those with autism by establishing events and activities that are both informative and fun. The puzzle awareness ribbon is widely recognized as the symbol for autism awareness, and it is encouraged to wear this or even include it on your social media site during the month of April to show your support.

The Autism Society shares a number of statistics from varying sources, and the numbers are high. Autism can be rather costly to care for, estimating about 3.2 million dollars per person across the lifecycle. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the prevalence of autism to be at 1 out of every 68 births. Further, autism is diagnosed in 1 out of every 54 boys, and the numbers continue to grow.

Fortunately, there are several established programs around the nation that support those with autism. AMC Theatres has developed Sensory Friendly Films, where it is not your typical movie night. Instead of the dark, quiet, theater most people are used to, AMC has created a more inviting environment where people can sing and be as loud as they like.

For a more outdoors approach, Izzy Paskowitz and his wife have created a non-profit organization called Surfers Healing. Their “goal is to help foster the understanding and acceptance of autism,” by inviting kids with autism and their families to surf. Izzy was once a professional surfer and, after having his own son develop autism, became motivated to create a fun, atypical environment for children with autism. It has become wildly successful over the last fifteen years and continues to grow.

Watch the story of Izzy Paskowitz and Surfers Healing below, courtesy of YouTube.

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