FEBRUARY 8, 2009
is AUTISM SUNDAY
We will remember those whose lives are impacted by autism during a special time of prayer following the sermon.
The first ever AUTISM SUNDAY was held in the second week in February in 2002 Autism Awareness Year in the United Kingdom. Churches in the UK prayed for all people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome. A historic Service for Autism was held at St.Paul's Cathedral in London. This was the first ever service for autism held at the Cathedral - many families and children with autism and Asperger's Syndrome from all over the UK attended this service - people from all walks of life including peers from the House of Lords, authors, broadcasters and dignitaries joined children, young people and adults with autism and Asperger's Syndrome. The event was highlighted on press, radio and television in the United Kingdom. There are 60 million people with autism around the world. Autism Sunday is now held in churches in other parts of the world to prayer for parents, carers and all people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
What is Autism? An Overview (From Autism Speaks Website: www.autismspeaks.org)
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Today, 1 in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe. Autism was first identified in 1943 by Dr. Leo Kanner of Johns Hopkins Hospital. At the same time, a German scientist, Dr. Hans Asperger, described a milder form of the disorder that is now known as Asperger Syndrome). These two disorders are listed in the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as two of the five developmental disorders that fall under the autism spectrum disorders. The others are Rett Syndrome, PDD NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder), and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. All of these disorders are characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills and social abilities, and also by repetitive behaviors. For more discussion on the range of diagnoses that comprise autism spectrum disorder.
Autism spectrum disorders can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 3, although new research is pushing back the age of diagnosis to as early as 6 months. Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child or their child's failure to reach appropriate developmental milestones. Some parents describe a child that seemed different from birth, while others describe a child who was developing normally and then lost skills. Pediatricians may initially dismiss signs of autism, thinking a child will “catch up,” and may advise parents to “wait and see.” New research shows that when parents suspect something is wrong with their child, they are usually correct. If you have concerns about your child's development, don't wait: speak to your pediatrician about getting your child screened for autism. If your child is diagnosed with autism, early intervention is critical to gain maximum benefit from existing therapies. Although parents may have concerns about labeling a toddler as “autistic,” the earlier the diagnosis is made, the earlier interventions can begin. Currently, there are no effective means to prevent autism, no fully effective treatments, and no cure. Research indicates, however, that early intervention in an appropriate educational setting for at least two years during the preschool years can result in significant improvements for many young children with autism spectrum disorders. As soon as autism is diagnosed, early intervention instruction should begin. Effective programs focus on developing communication, social, and cognitive skills.