April is Autism Awareness Month

Recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that one in 150 people in the United States could be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). That means 26,000 children in Illinois may have an ASD, a neurological disorder. Scientists do not know exactly what causes autism, and symptoms can range from very mild to severe.

Currently, Illinois is facing a shortage of trained professionals to diagnose and treat children with autism. Early intervention is vital to the well-being of these children. Studies have shown that early treatment allows children to develop communication skills and other adaptive behaviors, reducing the appearance of problem behaviors.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. The Illinois General Assembly is aware of the issues Illinois faces and is taking action. This session, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and more than 64 House members have sponsored House Bill 1661. HB 1661 supports evidence-based services throughout Illinois—including 12 regional centers, four community outreach centers and 11 community planning initiatives. The bill provides diagnostic and treatment resources that will impact more than 16,000 children in FY 2008.

Autism Spectrum Disorder can be detected as early as 18 months. For a list of symptoms, contact The Autism Program, 928 S. Spring St., Springfield, IL 62704, or call (217) 525-8332. If you have a child or know a child who displays these symptoms, contact your pediatrician, your local early intervention agency, school or The Autism Program. It is very important to begin intervention as early as possible to help your child reach his or her full potential. Acting early can make a real difference!

from the April 25-May 1, 2007, issue

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