Advocate editorial board opinion: Help awareness about disorder to provide more support

By the Advocate Editorial Board
March 29, 2012 at 8:01 p.m.
Updated March 28, 2012 at 10:29 p.m.

Autism is much more prevalent than thought, according to new information released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control.

Once, the estimate was 1 in 110, but now a new study of 8-year-olds concludes that 1 in 88 has some form of the disorder.

Speculation exists that the new numbers may have something to do with today's environment, but generally, awareness, better detection, and improved access to services are thought to be the reasons behind the more accurate numbers.

We are pleased that Victoria already has taken measures to address autism. If the disorder can be determined at an early age, the later-life effects are diminished.

And that's why we urge all to participate in the second annual Walk 4 Autism this Saturday in Riverside Park (near the horse arena). Registration is 8-9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. Also, a carnival will be featured.

Last year, about 1,000 people showed up to help the cause to make our community more aware of the disorder. The $5 donation gives unlimited access to the games and rides.

All proceeds from the event go to the nonprofit Autism Network Connection, an organization formed by Pena Watts, whose son has the disorder. The nonprofit is dedicated to bringing awareness and opportunities for those with the disorder.

The disorder - more than ever - needs to be documented to help find help solutions.

And Victoria College's Lyceum Series features Temple Grandin, who is a spokeswoman and advocate for those suffering from autism. The renown speaker will present the talk 7 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in the Victoria school district Fine Arts Center.

Grandin overcame a devastating childhood diagnosis to become a renowned animal scientist.

Grandin can offer a great amount of insight to the disorder.

Impairment of communication skills, social interaction and certain patterns of behavior in varying degrees are indicators of autism spectrum disorders. "And the disorders range from a severe form (called autistic disorder) to a milder form (Asperger syndrome). Often, ASDs can be reliably detected by the age of 3, and in some cases as early as 18 months," according to the website

Here in Victoria, the Vine School is a private institution for autistic children ages 2 through 10. The learning environment there is designed to meet the learning needs of those with autism spectrum disorders.

We at the Advocate have addressed this disorder in our four-part series "Missing Pieces," which you can still access on our website. The series tells the story of families that have had to deal with the disorder, their struggles and attempts to get help and to make the community aware of the problem.

Again, we urge you to participate in addressing this disorder. Make your way to Riverside Park and walk to help bring awareness to this disorder. Awareness leads to more support and possibly a cure one day.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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