Here we are again…another year coming to a close (time flies!). It was quite a full year with much to talk about. Before we bid an official goodbye to 2015, we wanted to reflect on some highlights that this past year has brought us.
Invaluable insights. There are a lot of people that write about autism (myself included…), have opinions about autism or research autism, but the perspectives that are truly invaluable came from those that have autism. For example, in attempt to build a greater understanding of autism, we learned of a brave boy named Jackson Cook who gave a speech to his third-grade class about his autism. There was also 7-year-old Molly-Raine Adams, who wrote a list describing the qualities of a true friend, as well as Michael Whary, a teen from Ohio that made a video for parents children with autism, sharing how autism doesn’t make him different, it makes him Michael.
New diagnostic tools. There has been so much new research unveiled this past year and we may be getting closer to getting some concrete answers on the parts of autism that still remain unknown. There are also new diagnostic tools being developed and evaluated that could help in the early detection and diagnosis of autism. Two promising techniques included a MRI-like scan that could identify autism within two minutes and a sniff test that looks at responses to smells.
The call to vaccinate. The debate over vaccinations, particularly the MMR vaccine, came screaming back to the forefront this year following an outbreak of measles. It was a time to reflect on the importance of vaccinations and how they save lives. Even President Obama weighed in on the debate saying, “There is every reason to get vaccinated – there aren’t reasons to not.”
Acts of kindness. There were many heartwarming stories coming from the autism community, and thanks to social media we all got to hear about them! These are the types of stories that remind us there are good people in this world and it’s that kind of positivity that’s worth sharing. Some of our favorites include how a community saved a birthday party, how a class’ cheers helped a young boy’s fears, a special birthday party invite, and, most recently, a story of an extra caring Santa.
Last, but certainly not least, we met Julia. Sesame Street introduced us to the newest member of the neighborhood, Julia, who is the show’s first character with autism. Julia is part of Sesame Workshop’s initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, which looks to offer ways families can overcome common challenges and foster ‘an affirming narrative around autism for all families and kids.’
Great strides and stories coming out of 2015, and we look forward to what is ahead. Wishing you and your family and healthy & happy new year!
Lynsey, Community Manager