Saturday, April 2, 2016

April: The Candles and Colors of Autism

Last night I lit a candle* to remind myself and others that "children with ASD are eight times more likely to elope** between the age of 7 and 10 than their typically-developing siblings. 48% of children with ASD attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings.***" Last night I lit a candle to remember those individuals who lost their lives in 2015 due to autism related elopement and the devastated families they left behind. 

Tonight I will light a candle to remind myself and others that one 2015 study found that "autistic adults with a learning disability are 40 times more likely to die prematurely from a neurological condition such as epilepsy."  I will light a candle to constantly remind myself and others that the same 2015 study articulated that suicide is now the leading cause of early adults in autism who do not have a learning disability."

Tomorrow I will light a candle to remind myself and others that individuals with autism die every year as a result of malpractice or outright murder. The news stories often forget to focus on the autistic individual who has lost their life. 

Light a candle or chose a color to shine but at the end of the day make sure you have taken the time to start a conversation about autism.  I promise you that someone somewhere--maybe a teen struggling to be themselves, maybe a parent trying to do the best that they can, or maybe a teacher desperate to reach a student that they have been told doesn't have a future--needs to hear your story about yesterday, today, and tomorrow

*Learn more about Jill Smo's candlight vigil event on Facebook
**Elopement (ICD-9-CM V40.31) wandering (aka Flight Risk)
***NAA Autism & Safety Facts
IAN research on Wandering and Autism
Project Lifesaver