Community Issue: Autism and the Search for Avonte

In light of the 21st day of search for Avonte Oquendo, I thought it was important to highlight his story, as well as raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Avonte, a Queens native, is a 14-year-old autistic boy who went missing October 4 from Center Boulevard School in Long Island. Avonte is non-verbal and is considered to be severely autistic. There have been major search efforts by the New York Police Department and thousands of concerned volunteers. However, New York City is now planning to cut back their efforts. There is currently a reward of $90,000 for information leading to Avonte.  

o-AVONTE-OQUENDO-570

For more information on Avonte and the rescue efforts, visit the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Avonte-Home/414437158656906

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.  Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).  Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group.

 Autism Facts:

  • Prevalence is estimated at 1 in 88 births
  • Prevalence in boys is estimated at 1 in 54 births
  • Autism is the fastest growing serious- developmentally disabled disability in the U.S.
  • Autism can cost a family $60,000 per year
  • Autism appears early in childhood – usually before the age of 3

The causes of Autism are still unknown, but as awareness and diagnosis has increased, so has research.

Unfortunately, there is not yet a cure for Autism. However, through early diagnosis and treatment, children with Autism are more likely to be able to handle the daily challenges that come with being autistic.

 While I hope this information was available, there is much more to be known about Autism. I charge you to take action and learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and ways you can help advance awareness or research in your community.

 These organizations below support Autism research and awareness, and can also provide you with more information on the disorder:

 Autism Speaks:    www.autismspeaks.org

 Autism Society:   http://www.autism-society.org/ 

HollyRod Foundation:  http://www.hollyrod.org/

 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NIH):    http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm

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