Autism Program of Illinois aims to spread autism awareness during April

April 25, 2012

Staff Report

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP) has announced it has mailed every pediatrician and family practice physician in Illinois to boost awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). April is traditionally observed as Autism Awareness Month throughout the world.

While there is still much we do not know about autism, it is clear that early diagnosis and intervention is key to obtaining the best outcome,” said Bronwyn Rains, director of TAP. “This issue is so important that we wanted to reach out to every physician who has regular contact with children to make sure that they are aware of the facts about autism, the warning signs to look for, and where to turn for assistance.”

The mailing was reaching more than 4,500 physicians in Illinois. The mailer features a detachable information card listing the signs of an ASD as well as contact information for TAP centers across the state.

Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control suggest one in 88 school-age children have some form of autism. In Illinois, that translates to more than 30,000 school-age youth with an ASD.

ASDs are a group of neurologically-based developmental disabilities that may impact a person’s communication, interaction with others, behavior and ability to learn. While scientists do not know exactly what causes autism, it is clear there is a genetic component to the disorders. A number of evidence-based therapies, such as applied behavioral analysis, can help ease the symptoms of autism if applied early in life.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, screening for autism should begin between 18 and 24 months of age. Most signs of autism are visible by age 3.

Pediatricians and family physicians will be the first point of contact for parents who may be concerned about their child’s development,” Rains said. “It is important that they have the most recent information and know where to refer parents for additional resources.”

TAP is the largest statewide autism resource and services network in the nation. The TAP network includes four universities and more than 30 nonprofit organizations in Illinois, and has 12 centers across the state.

From the April 25-May 1, 2012, issue

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