Autism. It used to be that thing you weren’t quite sure of. It was that thing that you learned out of watching TV’s version of Parenthood, or the movies Rain Man or What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? It’s still not something that impacts every family, but by now, if you think about it, you know someone with a family member that has autism, or have heard about it.
Whether parents are getting the diagnosis earlier, the growing awareness of it in the medical community, the expansion of the mental disorder’s classification, or the fact that it’s becoming more and more common regardless of these factors, autism now touches everyone. Below illustrates the alarming expansion of those on the autism scale:
Today marks the beginning of International Autism Awareness month. As the father of a “classic” autistic child, I have worked with those in sports and entertainment to bring about a heightened awareness of the mental disorder. To date, there is no direct understanding of why autism occurs (although science is getting much closer). To date, no matter what some may say, there is no cure. There is, however, a great deal of hope in therapy—therapy that needs to start at the earliest point a diagnosis can be made, and it is here that you can make a world of difference. Somewhere, there are parents wondering if their child is autistic. Or, there are parents out there that see different behaviors than they would expect from their child, and aren’t aware of the signs. That is what this autism awareness campaign is about.
The Business of Sports Network Autism Awareness Challenge requires no donations (although we encourage those that do wish to donate to click the link provided to Autism Speaks).
We challenge you to this:
Spread the details below to others. Pass the link via Twitter or Facebook. Encourage someone you know that may think their child could have autism to read. In doing so, you help increase awareness.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.
In March 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 88 births in the United States and almost 1 in 54 boys. The spotlight shown on autism as a result of the prevalence increase opens opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve these families facing a lifetime of supports for their children.
Currently, the Autism Society estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million, and that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism (this figure includes research, insurance costs and non-covered expenses, Medicaid waivers for autism, educational spending, housing, transportation, employment, in addition to related therapeutic services and caregiver costs).
Know the Signs: Early Identification Can Change Lives
Autism is treatable. Children do not "outgrow" autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.
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
If you are someone who has been directly impacted by a recent diagnosis of a child on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) scale, I highly encourage you to read the First 100 Days Kit (PDF) put out by Autism Speaks. This guide has invaluable information to help not only the parents dealing with this news, but also family and friends.
Finally, realize that autism is not something that has gone unaware. It is not something that is thought of as a stigma. Realize that in growing awareness of the disorder, you may not be able to change the child or adult with the disorder, but you change how society sees them. That is as important as anything else you can do. Please join these athletes, entertainers, and media members that support the Business of Sports Network Autism Awareness Challenge:
Stan Kasten - President and CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers
Allan Walsh - NHL player agent, Octagon
Martin Havlat - Right Wing, San Jose Sharks
Matt Kemp - Outfielder, Los Angeles Dodgers
Peter Gammons - MLB Network, MLB.com, NESN
John Thorn - Author, Official Historian Major League Baseball
Chuck Armstrong - President, Seattle Mariners
Larry Cancro - Senior Vice President of Fenway Affairs for the Boston Red Sox. Also Chairman of Autism Speaks, New England. Board member Melmark, New England a school that specializes in autism and similar cognitive disabilities
Jim Trotter - Senior NFL writer, Sports Illustrated
Sean Foreman - President, Sports Reference, LLC
Ken Davidoff - National baseball writer, Newsday
Kathy Conners - Principal & Founder KMC Consulting
Doug Farrar - Writer for Football Outsiders, Yahoo! Sports, Sportspress Northwest and The Washington Post
Chuck Greenberg - Founder, Greenberg Sports Group, Owner, Myrtle Beach Pelicans and State College Spikes
Jim Duquette - Sirius/XM Radio MLB Network Radio, former GM Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets
David Kahn - President, Basketball Operations, Minnesota Timberwolves
Wendy Thurm - Author, Baseball Nation
Scott Jackson - Host of Last Call on Sporting News Radio, Co-Host of The Brian Mitchell Show on 1067 The Fan DC and SBNation DC Columnist
Lou Imbriano - CEO at TrinityOne Sports & Professor of Sports Marketing at Boston College. Former CMO of the New England Patriots & 2011 McGraw-Hill Author
Gordon Edes - ESPNBoston.com
Peter Abraham - Boston Globe
Devon Teeple - Business of Sports Network
Jordan Kobritz - Business of Sports Network
Joe Tetreault - Business of Sports Network
Alyssa Milano - Television, screen and stage actor
Ryan and Dawn Neufeld - Ryan is 7-year NFL veteran playing tight-end; Dawn has been featured on VH1's "NFL Wives", honorary chairs of Dallas Rocks Against Autism
Jonathan Schaech - Actor and social activist. As seen in the movie "That Thing You Do" and more.
Larry Stone - National baseball writer, The Seattle Times
Victor Rojas - Television play-by-play voice of the LA Angels, formerly with MLB Network
Will Carroll - Bleacher Report
Jesse Sanchez - MLB.com
Troy Renck - MLB beat reporter, Denver Post
Kevin "'Duk" Kaduk - Editor of Y! Sports' Big League Stew
Dave Goren - Executive Director of National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association & Hall of Fame
George Atallah - Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs for the NFL Players Association
Mike Donnelly - Media Coordinator for the NFLPA
Ken Rosenthal - FOXSports.com, MLB Network
Dave Sims - Television play-by-play commentator for the Seattle Mariners, radio play-by-play for Sunday Night Football on Westwood One, television play-by-play host for UFL on VERSUS
Joe Hamrahi - Baseball Prospectus
Richard Justice - Sports columnist, MLB.com
Todd Radom - Graphic artist, sports logo creator
Joe Briggs, Esq
Curt and Shonda Schilling
Mike Ferrin - Host & Anchor, MLB Network Radio
Brent Gambill - Executive Producer, Sirius/XM Radio
Dave Barr - Producer, Sports Talk With Bo Mattingly. KREB 1190 Fayetteville, KTTG ESPN 96.3 FM Ft. Smith, KABZ 103.7 FM Little Rock
Russ Levine, VP of Digital Production for NHL.com
Jamie Newberg - NewbergReport.com
Pat Courtney - MLB VP Public Relations
Mike Dilorenzo - NHL spokesperson
Jason Rosenberg - It’s About the Money, Stupid blog
Jason Collette - DRaysBay.com /BaseballProspectus/Rotowire
Autism knows no race. It knows no social-economic class. It is something that touches all walks of society. Take a moment and watch this Autism Speaks PSA with pro golfer Ernie Els, himself, an active autism awareness advocate (see Els For Autism)
Thank you for your help. In doing what seems like something small, you could change lives.
Maury Brown President Business of Sports Network Bizball LLC