Autism Awareness

Individuals and communities can get involved and help spread autism awareness by promoting activities and services related to pervasive developmental disorders.

Here are some important autism awareness facts to share with family, friends, and neighbors in your community.




What is autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability which primarily affects a person's ability in social interaction and communication. Autism is known as a spectrum disorder, because it affects each individual in different ways and to varying degrees.

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the autism prevalence rate is much higher than originally thought (1 in 150). According to the study, autism affects 1 in 88 children. And 1 in 54 boys, totaling an estimated 673,000 or approximately 1% of all children in the United States. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention March, 2012).

A federal study made public in early 2007 found New Jersey had the highest rate of autism ever recorded in the United States of one in 94 children, and one in 60 boys.

Overall, the incidence of autism is four times more common in boys than in girls and typically appears during the first 3 years of life. Children and adults with autism tend to have difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communications, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.

Autism is one of the most heritable neurodevelopmental disorders. If one identical twin has it, so will the other in nearly 9 out of 10 cases. If one sibling has the disorder, the other siblings run a 35-fold greater-than-normal risk of having it. Source: National Institutes of Health

A recent Harvard School of Public Health study puts the lifetime cost to care for a person with autism at $3.2 million, and the cost for caring for all persons with the affliction at $35 billion per year.

More Autism Awareness Facts

As stated by the Autism Society of America:

  • Every day 60 American families are told they have a child with autism.
  • As many as one out of every 150 babies born will have autism.
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States
  • Autism is growing at an alarming rate of 10 to 17 percent each and every year in America.
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined.
  • One in 150 children with autism are now 14 and older.
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the public funding contributed each year to fight all major childhood diseases.
  • 1.5 million Americans have some form of autism spectrum disorder.
  • Autism costs America an estimated $90 billion annually.
  • The cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention.
  • In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion.

What causes autism?

There is no single known cause for autism. However, it is generally agreed that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans have shown differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism when compared to those without the condition.

Researchers are investigating a number of theories, including a link between heredity, genetics, birth-related medical problems and environmental factors. Psychological factors are not believed to be the cause of autism.

How is autism treated?

Experts agree that early intervention is important in addressing the symptoms associated with autism. Most professionals also agree that individuals with autism respond well to highly structured, specialized education programs that are designed to meet the individual's particular needs.

In any treatment plan, it is important for family members and treatment providers to address areas of social skill development, communication, behavior, and sensory integration.

According to the late Dr. Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., founder and director of the Autism Research Institute more progress has been made in the development of effective autism treatments in the last several years than in the past 3 decades. The Defeat Autism Now! (DAN) approach is based on nutritional and biomedical strategies. These include investigating metabolism issues, special diets, approaches for improving digestion, treating intestinal disorders and inflammation, using nutritional supplements and detoxification.

Generation Rescue is a non-profit parent organization which also provides good information on autism treatment and detoxification.

Disparities in Autism

Studies show disparities among African Americans with autism and other disabiilties, which call for our immediate attention to ensure all persons with autism live up to their full potential.

African Americans living with autism need family members, professionals and advocates to take a stand on this important issue on their behalf. Disparities in health and special education must be included as a major part of our autism awareness message.

Our loved ones can be negatively affected throughout their lifespan if disparities in early diagnosis and treatment, health, special education and the criminal justice system are allowed to persist.

Disparities Among African Americans with Autism is an article which may help to open the dialogue on some challenging issues our loved ones could face. As well as ideas for some first-steps to action parents, families and caregivers can take to help overturn them.

In Celebration of Autism Awareness

On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution of the Third Committee designating April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day for eternity, starting in 2008.

Autism Awareness Month is celebrated nationally every year in April, providing an opportunity for families, friends, and local communities to raise public awareness. It is sponsored by the Autism Society of America.

Autism Awareness Fundraisers

Reportedly, every 21 minutes another child is diagnosed with autism. And most of the autism population is under age 21. There is an urgency for us to spread autism awareness to help raise the necessary funding for services, research and treatment.

There are plenty of things that you can do to raise lots of money. You have to ask people for their support. Just tell them how important it is to you that we raise funds for medical research for autism and ask for their participation.

Start a letter writing campaign! Letter writing is the fastest, easiest and most effective way to raise money. Write one letter and send it to everyone in your address book. Send a letter to your Christmas card list, to your co-workers, to your children’s classmates, and to your doctors and therapists. Just think how much money you could raise if everyone on your lists gave you $20 or $50 – even $1!


Autism Awareness
Fundraiser Activities

Free Autism Awareness Fundraising E-Books

by Lance Winslow III

Raising Money for Autism - Peddling for Autism: Bike-a-Thons

How to Run a Successful Car Wash Fundraiser

Everything you need to know to plan and advertise an autism awareness Bike-A-Thon and Car Wash. Including pledge and registration forms.

Below are more autism awareness fundraising activities:

  • Send an e-mail to family, friends and colleagues.
  • Put a money jar at your local store with your child’s picture on it, asking for donations.
  • Ask your co-workers to help support this important cause. Ask your employer to match each donation received at work.
  • Send a letter to your child’s classmates and families asking them to join your family team. You may also get the support of other parents, teachers and staff.

Autism Walk Team Building

Forming a team is easy. After you invite your family, don’t forget to invite your neighbors and friends. Reach out to other families that are touched by autism through your schools, support groups, and your doctor and therapist’s office. It's important that we try to reach as many people as we can and “Talk the Walk” wherever we go.

Check out these eight simple steps to raise $1,000 shared by Autism Speaks Walk Now For Autism campaign newsletter.

8 Simple Steps to Raising $1,000

  • Step 1: Start by donating $25 to yourself
  • Step 2: Ask four family members for $50 each
  • Step 3: Ask 10 friends to donate $20 each
  • Step 4: Ask five co-workers to donate $20 each
  • Step 5: Ask five neighbors to donate $20 each
  • Step 6: Ask 10 people from your gym, place of worship or club to donate $20 each
  • Step 7: Ask your boss for a $50 company donation
  • Step 8: Ask 5 businesses for a $25 donation

Tips to Encourage Team Spirit

Building team spirit is a way to making an Autism Walk event a memorable one. Here are some tips to encourage team spirit:

  • Create your own team T-shirt. T-shirts will make your group feel more like a team, and it is a great souvenir. This is the time to be creative!
  • Make a sign or banner to distinguish your team. This is especially important if you have a large team that will be coming in many cars. A sign will help your group assemble before the walk. A sign or banner can also be a person expression of support for a loved one who is effected by autism. For example, one large team took an old scarecrow from Halloween, and dressed it in the team T-shirt. This team was always easy to find.
  • Ideas for Autism Awareness Walk Events

    • Designate a Team Captain for your team to collect all your walk sponsor brochures, and check-in for your team on registration day.
    • Invite parents and teachers at your local school to join your autism walk team.
    • Give your team personality! Carry ballons, and wear caps, hats, buttons, and crazy socks to.
    • Make your team unique! Wear your uniform, i.e. Girl Scouts, or Knights of Columbus.
    • Teams that have a lot of spirit often create their own song or team cheer! Think about simple tunes that everyone knows and change the words. Team Captains, you may want to come with a few cheers or songs on a sheet of paper to share with your teammates.
    • Create a sign to gather all your walkers. Ask planners for landmarks at the walk site.
    • Bring your camera! Take your own team photo. Send any photos to your local newspaper.

    Autism Awareness House Party

    Would you like some tips and ideas to plan an autism awareness house party or plan an autism-related fundraising event? A social gathering is a good way to meet other families, share experiences, spread hope and awareness -- and enjoy good company!

    Autism Awareness Ambassador

    Help spread autism awareness in your community. Become an Autism Awareness Ambassador. Autism New Jersey sponsors a program used to recognize individuals who volunteer to promote autism awareness in their communities using its materials and ideas. Ambassadors do not use their titles to promote personal interests or agendas not related to the Autism Awareness Ambassador Program.

    Autism Awareness Ribbon

    The Autism Puzzle Ribbon - What does it symbolize?

    The autism awareness ribbon puzzle piece pattern is said to symbolize the mystery and complexity of autism. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of people and families living with this developmental disorder. The brightness of this awareness ribbon signals hope. Hope that through research we will soon identify the causes and a cure for autism. And hope that through increasing awareness of autism, persons with the disorder will lead fuller and more complete lives.

    The Autism Society of America has been awarded, from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark for the Puzzle Ribbon logo as a result of its years of use, work and investment. ASA's goal is to protect the ribbon for responsible use within the autism community. It is ASA's intent to use its best efforts to make the puzzle ribbon logo available royalty-free to ASA Chapters and for all legitimate purposes and uses by autism organizations.



    Autism Awareness Graphics

    Click here for more free autism graphics for your awareness invitations, flyers, banners, cards and bumper stickers.

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