Posts Tagged ‘ Autism Awareness Month ’

Airport Program Aims to Ease Travel for Kids With Autism

Monday, April 8th, 2013

A new program at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is trying to help take the anxiety out of air travel for families traveling with children who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  The program lets families come to the airport for a “dry run” that enables kids to see what will happen before travel day, taking the surprise element out of the complicated and potentially overwhelming experience of flying.  More from Minneapolis’ KARE- 11 News:

“(They) really try to get over the sensory issues they’ll face like this, and hopefully have a good experience, and then when they do fly, they’ve already been through this,” said Dawn Brasch, with the Autism Society of Minnesota.

Volunteers lead the families through every step in the airport process, from security, to finding their way through the crowds, and even practicing the boarding process and finding their seats on a plane.

“Instead of doing it for the first time when there’s already added stress of going on vacation, it’s just like doing it again,” Nielsen said.

The Autism Society says it’s a helpful lesson not only for families, but for airport workers too.

“They don’t have the physical attributes of autism, you can’t just see it, so you don’t necessarily know when somebody’s coming through and they’re having a difficult time,” Brasch said.

Image: Mother and child at airport, via Shutterstock

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Families, States, Insurance Companies Wrestle with Autism’s Costs

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

As health care costs–and diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)–rise, families find themselves faced with mounting costs and not much help as they would like.  More from ABC News about how advocates are lobbying states to mandate that insurance companies cover autism therapies and other costs:

Thirty-two states have required state-regulated health insurance plans to cover autism, according to Autism Speaks, an organization that advocates for families.

Autism spectrum disorders are developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Treatments include behavioral, occupational and speech therapy, and experts say early intervention is critical.

Bills to mandate coverage for care are moving along with success in Hawaii, Minnesota and Nebraska, but Autism Speaks is pushing for a law in all 50 states and calling on Congress to mandate all companies not under state jurisdiction to authorize care.

Many companies who self-insure, like Microsoft and Oracle, have already voluntarily done so, according to Autism Speaks spokesman Rick Remington.

“We are calling on the president for a national plan for autism,” he said. “Prevalence is on the rise, and we are calling out the government to say enough is enough.”

Matt Bengtzen, who works as a manager in local government in Salt Lake City, has two sons with autism, aged 13 and 10.

“The diagnosis was a struggle for us because it was not covered by insurance,” he said. “And I have very good insurance.”

“We actually have been pretty fortunate, because our children are on the more functional side of the autism spectrum,” said Bengtzen, 37. “It’s been difficult, but not devastating.”

Still, the family has spent at least $10,000 out of pocket on each child so far.

Image: Health care costs, via Shutterstock

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UN Urges Early Intervention for World Autism Awareness Day

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Early intervention is the best way to enable children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) achieve the maximum success in developing skills and abilities that are challenging to them, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a message for World Autism Awareness Day.  The goal of the message was to close the “awareness gap” in nations where knowledge about autism interventions and treatments may be lacking.  From a release posted on the UN’s website:

“Now is the time to work for a more inclusive society, highlight the talents of affected people and ensure opportunities for them to realize their potential,” Mr. Ban said in his message on World Autism Awareness Day, which is marked annually on 2 April.

“International attention is essential to address stigma, lack of awareness and inadequate support structures,” he added.

Autism is characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills and social interactions and in restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour.

In her video message for the Day, Ban Soon-taek, the Secretary-General’s wife, noted the UN’s commitment to raising awareness about autism.

“Let us continue to work hand-in-hand with affected individuals which strengthens their lives and helps society as a whole,” Mrs. Ban said.

In New York, two panel discussions take place today to celebrate the abilities of people with autism. In addition to scholars and civil society representatives, the panels feature Neal Katz, a teenager with autism featured in the film ‘Autism The Musical’ Fazli Azeem, a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan who is on the autism spectrum; and Idil Azeem from Somalia, who has a child with autism.

UN Headquarters in New York is also hosting a musical performance by Talina and The Miracle Project, which includes performers with autism, as well as a film screening.

Image: Autism awareness ribbon, via Shutterstock

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Autism Awareness Month on PNN

Monday, April 1st, 2013

April has been National Autism Awareness Month since the 1970s, and Parents News Now will be marking the month with regular posts covering autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and its effects on families, schools, scientists, and communities alike.  Last year, the month began with the startling news that 1 in 88 American children had an ASD diagnosis.  Just a few weeks ago, new information was released, putting that number closer to 1 in 50 children diagnosed with autism.

Other recent news items on autism include:

Be sure to check back for posts tagged “Autism Awareness Month” throughout April, and feel free to email me at with autism stories in your community that you think’s readers should know about.

Image: Autism awareness ribbon, via Shutterstock

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Autism Awareness Month: A Month in Review

Monday, April 30th, 2012

This month, PNN has featured an “Awareness Spotlight” in honor of Autism Awareness month, sharing a news item on an autism-related topic each day of April.  The decision to focus on this topic could not have come at a more important time for American families, as the month began with the CDC’s announcement of new research that found 1 in 88 American children has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Looking over the full complement of posts as we wrap up the month, two major categories of issues rise to the top: new insights on both the causes and treatments of ASD, and bullying, depression, and suicide risks for autistic children.  Clearly, autism is a topic that will not disappear from PNN just because we’ve turned the calendar to May.

In case you missed our spotlight, here are some of the most compelling, most-discussed PNN posts.

Image: Autism awareness ribbon, via Shutterstock.

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