By Sanjay Shah
What’s it like to live with autism?
That’s a complicated question. “Living with autism” means more than being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), of course. Millions who can’t be placed on the spectrum nevertheless “live” with autism as parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, teachers and friends.
Like the needs of all other children, the needs of kids with ASD change as they age. Their needs are situation- and environment-dependent, too. Let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to live with and support someone who has autism in three common situations: home, school and the post-secondary world.
Millions of children around the world live with autism. Every day, thousands of kids are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There’s a good chance you know someone who is directly or indirectly affected by autism, even if they’re not particularly forthcoming about the experience.
But how much do you really know about autism?
ASD is a complex condition that we’re only just beginning to unravel. The good news is that we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress toward understanding ASD in a relatively short timeframe. The bad news is that we’re still a long way from where we need to be.
The coming months and years will be pivotal. Charities like the Autism Research Trust (ART) are stepping up to fund critical research into the causes, progression and treatments of ASD. Innovative organizations like Autism Rocks are doing their part to raise funds for groups like ART and increase their visibility in an increasingly crowded philanthropic landscape. And, thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to donate to Autism Rocks and its brethren, even if you’re not on the invite list to any of its star-studded shows.
What about where the rubber meets the road? What are the researchers whose work depends on these charities actually doing? And can we point to tangible progress that gives us hope for the future of ASD treatment?
Let’s take a look at a few of the most promising areas of autism research. For more detail, check out ART’s periodic progress reports.
By Sanjay Shah
How much do you know about autism?
If you answered “not much,” you’re not alone. The uncomfortable and frankly frustrating truth about autism is that, despite years of research and a growing realization that a significant fraction of humanity is affected in some way by autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we still don’t know very much about the causes or pathologies of autism.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that this reality is slowly, fitfully turning around. We’ve learned more about autism in the past 10 years than in the previous five decades combined. And we’re breaking new ground every month.
Autism researchers have tremendous momentum right now. Whether this momentum peters out or continues to build depends in large part on people like you. Every person who steps up to provide material support for autism research adds their voice to a growing chorus and brings the ultimate goal—untangling the mysteries of autism—closer to fruition.
You don’t have to be a millionaire philanthropist to do your part. You just have to make the conscious choice to get involved, and then follow through. That’s it.
Here’s how to start.