Thursday, December 28, 2006
The impact of autism
All this week, we have been talking about autism. We have touched on some remarkable research where doctors are able to peer into the brain of an autistic child, using advanced MRI scanning techniques. While they still don't know what precisely causes autism, they are able to compare the brains of autistic children with those who don't have autism.
We have also seen the burden autism takes on an entire family. I was stunned to learn the divorce rate among parents of autistic children is 80 percent.
We have also touched on the impact early intervention could have on a child. Start treating autism before age 5, even better before 2. It can help alleviate some of the biggest barriers of autism. I was heartbroken as I heard tearful parents worry about who would take care of their autistic children when they were gone.
One of our viewers, Jerry, wrote in to tell of his 27-year-old-son. "It took 22 years to get a solid diagnosis," he wrote, and "what we need now is help in managing an adult child with this condition." Jerry went on to remind us that like most children, his son is very intelligent, even graduating from college. It is the lack of social skills though, along with the lack of resources for adults, that has left his son jobless.
Jerry raises an important issue and something we don't touch on enough. It is something that will become more important as a generation of autistic children grow up. How should society take care of autistic adults? We are so used to thinking of autism as associated with children, but eventually those children grow up. Employers may be hesitant to hire an adult with diminished social skills, and society may be unwilling to incur the additional costs of paying for them if they don't work.
The other issue that we have to touch on is the cause of autism in the first place. There have been no definitive links between autism and mercury preservatives in vaccines, but still many parents remain unconvinced. What are your thoughts?
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