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Business of Sports Network - Autism Awareness Challenge
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 30 April 2009 00:39
Autism

 

At midnight tonight, the calendar sheds another page, and April turns to May. With that ends what has been designated as World Autism Awareness Month.

But, for millions of families around the globe, autism awareness is a daily affair.

I, and my family, are but one of a growing number that deals with autism’s effects.

Last year, when my wife and I learned that our youngest son Travis had been diagnosed as being on the autism scale as “classic”, I reached out to the sports community and offered up a challenge:

Spread the word. Help parents with young children look for the signs of autism. Be aware of your surroundings and realize that the boy or girl next to you in the checkout line may be on the autism scale. After all, it is a growing developmental disorder.

This year, I hope you will do the same. If you are involved in sports media, I encourage you to write about the Business of Sports Network Autism Challenge. If you are a producer in radio, I hope you will give me 5 minutes on the air to help spread the word. If you are an athlete, a sports executive, or a sports organization, I hope you will extend a hand.

We chose to offer up this challenge on the last day of World Autism Awareness Month in the hopes that while the designation drops from the calendar, it does not drop from view, and that no matter the date on the calendar, you help make society just a bit better by simply acknowledging the ever growing presence of this developmental disorder.

Our challenge is to make others aware of autism. The following information comes by way of the Autism Society of America:

  • 1 out of 150 children in U.S.
  • 1 out of 90 boys
  • Affects four times as many boys as girls
  • Lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism: $3.5 to $5 million
  • Current annual cost to U.S.: $35 billion
  • Estimated annual cost by 2010: $90 billion
  • 1.5 million Americans affected

Researching has found information that has been valuable to my wife and I, and some indications that we saw early on as classic traits of autism spectrum disorder within our son’s behavior. Passing some of these behavioral traits along may help you, or someone you know, get their child to their pediatrician for an evaluation. Early detection is critical as the earlier a child is enrolled in therapy, the better the odds are that when they grow older they will be able to function in society.

Here are some signs to look for in the children in your life:

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects
  • Reaching a development milestone only to see regressively disappear
  • Odd dietary behaviors, such as eating only starches
  • No fear of danger

If your child is diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, we highly suggest reading the “100 Day Kit” available on Autism Speaks,. The 81 page PDF is an indispensable walk through everything from the emotions that parents go through when they receive word that their child has ASD, how autism is diagnosed, the variety of symptoms of autism, how the extended family and siblings are impacted and much more.

How can you help? Donate. Spread the word.

As mentioned, autism reaches across all spectrums of society. This month, a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring professional golfer Ernie Els, and his six year old son, Ben, designed to raise awareness about autism and to urge parents to learn the early warning signs of this developmental disorder was released. See the video below for details.

 

Finally, autism is simply a name. It does not define those that have the disorder. Here is the face of a child that has autism, but is instead simply called “Travis”.

Travis Brown. Diagnosed as
being on the autism scale,
April 9, 2008


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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