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!
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