Hello 2015! Yes, the new year is now here and underway, but before we officially say goodbye to 2014, let’s take a look at some of the more prominent news and stories from the past year:
- 1 in 68 – Autism rates continue to increase. The Center for Disease Control reported that the number of U.S. children with autism soared to 1 in 68 – a 30% increase from its last report two years prior. Still without a confirmed known cause, or causes, the reason for this increase can’t be determined, although growing awareness and better identification of autism in children may be playing a part in that increase.
- Jerry Seinfeld thinks he’s autistic…but then doesn’t. Probably one of the most buzzed-about stories this year was when comedian Jerry Seinfeld — during an interview with NBC News’s Brian William — said that he thought he might be on the autism spectrum. Although he later took that claim back, his self-diagnosis was met with both support and criticism.
- Amazing Acts of Kindness. Helping someone – an easy thing to do, and something that could profoundly impact someone. These types of stories are always our favorite, and we hope there are plenty of them in 2015. Check out a couple from last year such as William’s Mail and Lunch Buddies.
- Athletic Super Stars. We saw some truly incredible athleticism this year – and met some amazing kids celebrating remarkable achievements. We heard about Jason “J-Mac” McElwain who ran the Boston marathon in under three hours, as well as Mike Brannigan, who is one of the top 10 high school runners in the U.S., and Josh Bailey, who is a star member of his high school football team.
- Learning More. It was another year full of new information and studies. It seems like a new study comes out almost every day. There was, for example, the one that showed environment is just as important as genes in looking at how autism runs in families; or, the study that show children with autism may have an overload of brain connections. All of this research and discovery is so important maybe we’re getting closer to understanding this complex condition. We hope continued research, awareness and, above all else, compassion remains prominent in the year ahead.
We wish you all a very happy New Year!
If you’ve spent any time online the last few days, you’re very likely to have come across the news that comedian Jerry Seinfeld speculates he is on the autism spectrum. If you haven’t yet seen/heard it, this all came out of an interview he did with NBC News’s Brian Williams, during which he said:
“I think on a very drawn-out scale, I think I’m on the spectrum. Basic social engagement is really a struggle. I’m very literal, when people talk to me and they use expressions, sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying. But I don’t see it as—as dysfunctional. I just think of it as an alternative mindset.”
When I first read what he had to say, my initial reaction was–well, that could be possible. And certainly lots of respect to him to share something that personal. But then my next thought was – people are going to be mad. And I can definitely understand that too. People may (and did, here for example…) think—just because Jerry Seinfeld struggles with social interaction doesn’t mean he has autism…many people are not comfortable socially, but that doesn’t mean you can just diagnose yourself as being autistic. And like I said, I completely get that perspective.
But what I was happy to see was that, for the most part, the reception of his self-diagnosis was met with positivity. The spectrum is wide and the severity at which autism can impact someone is greatly varied. With as many people being diagnosed with autism today, we can bet that there are many others who may have very high-functioning autism that don’t have an official diagnosis – and are able to get through life without much, or any, real intervention. And he’s not the first celebrity to recognize himself with autism – others such as Dan Aykroyd and Daryl Hannah also are believed to have autism.
What I really like from this is that he went out there and identified himself with something that often carries stigma. If nothing else, he was able to bring some awareness and light to the autism discussion and he’s also done much for autism in a charitable fashion as well. And while he, himself, may not represent the majority of those touched by autism and the impairment it can have on their development, if he’s able to use his public status to further raise awareness, then hats off to him.
Lynsey, Community Manager