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Autism And Us All

An illustration from the book, My Brother Charlie.

As I've been stating since last week, I'm a little behind with things.

April (and what remains of it) is National Autism Awareness Month. I'd like to shed some light on a disease that many hear about but I suspect few probably actually understand. I can count myself as someone in this category.

What is Autism?
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). The other pervasive developmental disorders are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not
Otherwise Specified), Asperger's Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
How common is Autism?
Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism...

What causes Autism?
The simple answer is we don't know. The vast majority of cases of autism are idiopathic, which means the cause is unknown.

The more complex answer is that just as there are different levels of severity and combinations of symptoms in autism, there are probably multiple causes. The best scientific evidence available to us today points toward a potential for various combinations of factors causing autism – multiple genetic components that may cause autism on their own or possibly when combined with exposure to as yet undetermined environmental factors. Timing of exposure during the child's development (before, during or after birth) may also play a role in the development or final presentation of the disorder...

For those of you who are loving and raising children with autism, please know that today and for the rest of this month (and year) I applaud, appreciate and celebrate you. Be encouraged, never despair --- no matter how rough the road may seem at times, no matter how unfair life may appear.

You are not alone...and neither is the child you love so much...

Holly Robinson Peete, bestselling author, actress, and national autism spokesperson, has paired with her daughter, Ryan, to co-author an uplifting book based on their own personal experiences with Holly’s son and Ryan’s brother, RJ, who has autism.

We need to lift these kids up and let everyone know that they are just as valuable as anyone else in our society.

To win an autographed copy of My Brother Charlie, please visit my Facebook Fan Page for contest rules and details.

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