It’s been another busy year, with lots of news coming out for the autism community and from the autism community. From new research and discoveries, to raising awareness, to stories of hope and inspiration, here is our list of top stories of the year.
- Celebrities unveiling their autism diagnosis. A few household names chose to step out this year to bring light to the fact that they had been diagnosed with autism and/or Asperger’s. This may have come as a surprise to some, particularly since those celebs included people like Daryl Hannah (known for Splash! and Kill Bill) and Dan Aykroyd (from SNL, Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, among many others).
- New diagnostic criteria. A new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – known as DSM-5 – was released, which impacted the way an autism diagnosis is now made. It was met with both positive and negative reactions, particularly because they put previously-separate diagnoses of Asperger’s and PDD-NOS under the larger umbrella of autism spectrum disorder.
- Amazing acts of kindness. Thanks in large part to social media, some small acts of kindness have been shared online, allowing all of us to take great joy in them. Take for example a Utah-based Chili’s waitress who made a young girl’s day by “fixing” her broken cheeseburger; or a high school teen who befriended a boy with autism and escorted him to his junior prom. (If you haven’t seen either, we suggest you check them out!)
- New research & discoveries. There was a lot of new research conducted throughout the past year, hopefully giving us more clues on this often-baffling disorder – from the potential cause(s) to new treatment methods. (Check out a few here, here and here…).
- And, finally…chickens. Yes, chickens. Earlier this month we talked about the Hart family who found that their pet chickens (used originally to give the family fresh eggs) had a profoundly beneficial impact on their 3-year-old autistic son. The family was allowed to keep the chickens as part of a pilot program (since keeping these chickens as pets was not typically allowed in their Florida town) – but that pilot program was ending, and the town wasn’t going to let the Harts keep their chickens – which was their son’s true therapy. But thanks to a lot of support on behalf of the Hart family, the town changed their decision, and now, just in time for the holidays, the Harts got the great news they can keep their chickens!
A wonderful way to end the year!
And we know that much more is ahead in 2014! Wishing everyone a healthy and happy New Year!
Lynsey, Community Manager