2019 Faces of Autism Kick-off

Tomorrow starts off Autism Awareness Month! It also starts my fourth annual “Faces of Autism” project and I am so excited to share these amazing kids with you all! This year includes many familiar faces from the Bismarck and Mandan area, as well as many newcomers to the project.

Faces of Autism means so much to me and I am incredibly grateful for the children and families that are willing to share their stories as well as all of the people who support it by reading and sharing. Although I do write about different signs families have noticed that prompted a diagnosis for their child, and some of the struggles they experience, the main objective is to show everyone that people with autism are people too. They have similar likes and dislikes, hobbies, and goals for their futures. They work incredibly hard to conquer some things that may come easily to neurotypical kids, but the determination and strength required to do that is absolutely amazing.

For those of you that may not know, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability that is defined by a certain set of behaviors. It is a spectrum that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. ASD signs typically appear during early childhood, with no definitive known cause. Some behaviors associated with autism include speech delays, difficultly making eye contact and/or holding a conversation, executive function difficulties, poor motor skills and planning, as well as sensory issues.

As of 2018 the CDC determined 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism, with boys being diagnosed at a higher rate than girls. Due to better diagnostic criteria, as well as combining other previously diagnosed neurological disorders under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder, autism has become a much more common diagnosis. With these rates, it is very likely that you know multiple people on the spectrum already.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading about the different Faces of Autism this year. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments or reach out to me and I will do my best to answer.

Have a happy April and don’t forget to wear blue on April 2 for Autism Awareness Day!

Here are some additional facts and statistics about autism:

  • An estimated one-third of people with autism are nonverbal

  • Nearly half of people with autism wander or bolt from safety

  • Drowning remains the leading cause of death for children with autism and accounts for approximately 90% of deaths associated with wandering and bolting by those 14 or younger

  • Nearly two-thirds of children with autism between the ages of 6 and 15 have been bullied

  • Almost 28 percent of 8 year olds with autism have self injurious behaviors. These can include head banging, arm biting, and scratching themselves

  • More than half of children with autism have one or more chronic sleep problem

  • Co-occurring physical and mental health conditions are more prevalent in people with autism than the general population, including, but not limited to, ADHD, depression, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal disorders and epilepsy.