The United Nations has designated today World Autism Awareness Day, which speaks volumes to the growing, worldwide concern for the autism epidemic. There are only two other health-related World Day events, for diabetes and AIDS. April is also National Autism Awareness Month.
It is often asked why autism is getting so much attention now. Some compare the autism threat to the polio epidemic in the 1950s. Studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that the prevalence of autism-spectrum disorders has significantly increased, from approximately four in 10,000 in the early 1990s to as many as one in every 150 births today. Despite increasing national interest and strikingly high prevalence, autism research remains one of the lowest-funded areas of medical research by both public and private sources.
What is autism?
According to Autism Speaks, “Autism is a complex brain disorder that often inhibits a person’s ability to communicate, respond to surroundings, and form relationships with others. First identified more than 50 years ago, autism is typically diagnosed by the age of two or three. Autism affects people of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Few disorders are as devastating to a child and his or her family. While some people with autism are mildly affected, most people with the condition will require lifelong supervision and care and have significant language impairments. Many children with autism will never be able to tell their parents they love them.”
Currently, the causes of autism are unknown and there are no specific medical treatments or cure. Physicians have no blood test or diagnostic scan that can definitively diagnose the disorder. The diagnosis of autism is based solely upon observations of behavior. Some, but not all, people with autism are non-verbal. The degree of autism varies from mild to severe in different individuals. The causes of autism are not yet understood. It is widely believed within the scientific community, however, that there is a strong genetic component or predisposition to autism-spectrum disorders. Researchers have suggested that the immunological, metabolic and environmental factors may also play a part in the causes of autism.
Facts about autism from Autism Speaks
- 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism.
- 67 children are diagnosed per day.
- More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined.
- Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
- Autism costs the nation over $35 billion per year, a figure expected to double in the next decade. Autism receives less than 5 percent of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases.
- Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism.
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism.
Incidence vs. private funding
- Leukemia affects 1 in 25,000. Funding: $310 million
- Muscular dystrophy affects 1 in 20,000. Funding: $175 million
- Pediatric AIDS affects 1 in 8,000. Funding: $394 million
- Juvenile diabetes affects 1 in 500. Funding: $130 million
- Autism affects 1 in 150. Funding: $42 million
National Institutes of Health funds allocation
- Total 2007 NIH budget: $29 billion
- Of this, $80 million goes directly to autism research. This represents 0.28% of total NIH funding. (According to Autism Speaks’ review, only 63% of the $127 million of the NIH’s autism-related spending in 2007 was on direct autism spending).
What Is Autism Speaks?
“At Autism Speaks, our goal is to change the future for all who struggle with autism-spectrum disorders.
We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.
Autism Speaks aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.”
For more information, visit www.autismspeaks.org.
Why is this article on a Clay Aiken board? Well, that is an easy question to answer. Clay has been a champion for all children with disabilities. For almost 10 years, Clay has worked in a hands-on way to help Autistic children and their families. He taught a classroom of autistic children and worked one-on-one with Michael Bubel, an autistic young man who helped change the path of Clay’s life.
Thank you, Clay, for opening our minds and hearts to the struggle of families affected by Autism. We have learned so much.
Wow, those figures kind of bring it all home.
Thank you for bringing this information to the forefront. Hopefully articles like this one will help change the research funding allocations. While any childhood disease is a tragedy, this one affects so many children and also affects their families.
Those are some staggering statistics. The amount of children and families affected with so little of our attention and funds for research into it is saddening. I’m glad that Clay has chosen to try to help those with special needs.
Thanks for the excellent, informative article on Autism.
Its actually being highlighted over here at the moment and is in the news regarding the little amount of support and money Autism gets from the government. Interesting, thought provoking piece of information. Thanks to Clay Aiken for higlighting the issues and thanks for this inforative piece.
This was a wonderful and very timely article. Thank you. There have been headways made in early detection of Autism, but greater funding is definately needed NOW.
Those are frightening figures. Thanks for a very informative article.
Thank you for truly being a NEWS blog. Yes we all love Clay Aiken, but news is important too and CANN continues to inform as well as entertsain.
I had no idea that autism affected that many children and it’s a shame that it is not getting the funding like the ones you mentioned in this article. I learn something new everyday here, great article.
This is an excellent and very accurate article about autism and its impact. Thank you for doing such thorough and careful research and for writing such an informative article!
Well researched and well written article. I believe Clay fans are more aware of autism than the average person due to Clay’s efforts and also the efforts of one of the fans who often posts relating her problems as an autistic adult and doing what she can to educate us. She reminds us that adults can be and often are victims of autism, yet little has been done to help adults with autism.
Thank you so much for this informative article. As a teacher, I am well aware of the increased number of students who are diagnosed with autism. The good news is that we can all help to make a difference to these children and their families.
Thanks for the amazing, informative article. This site is so much more than just a Clay Aiken news site. Probably because Clay is much more than just a celebrity. He lends his voice to so many worthy causes, and we have been so fortunate to be educated about these many causes because of Clay and the information that you bring to us here. Great Job!!
Thanks for the info about Autism. It is mind boggling.
What an informative and interesting article about Autism….
I have learned so much being a fan of Clay…from when Clay first started talking about teaching in the classroom. And this classroom was filled with Autistic kids…. How they would throw staplers at him…anything that they would have in their hands…and he learned how to duck quickly….
He really has opened our eyes, and I am so thankful for this.. I think it all makes us better people, cause we are more aware.
Thanks again CANN for all that you do informing us of everything that is near and dear to Clay’s heart.
Amazing article CANN, thank you. I learn more each day.
Thanks also for the Oprah video with Clay singing “I Will Carry You”. I hadn’t seen that in a long time. What a voice. What a man.
Excellent, very thorough blog about Autism Day! Fans are proud of Clay Aiken’s commitment to the inclusion of children with disabilities.
Thnx again for a great blog!
Thanks posting this article. I have a 9 year old nephew with severe autism and my brother and sister-in-law have reached so many roadblocks with his education. For about six months now, he has not been able to attend school because he has gotten worse. He is being taught at home by a teacher only one hour per day after the regular school day is done. I don’t even know where to start in trying to do something to help as they live in Connecticut and I’m in Florida. It’s very, very frustrating to hear about the struggles that the parents, and these kids, go through.
I must admit that I have not the slightest
clue what autism is until 2006 when I officially became a Clay fan! Since then I’ve been a supporter of Clay’s charities. Thanks
so much for an informative article. I pray that
research will find the best treatment money can buy for the benefit of these children and adults and their caregivers.
Kudos to CANN for this informative article about Autism.
Its really nice, i dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. I never comment on those blogs, even when the content is great
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