Greater Awareness of Autism Helps Our Children ‘Fulfill Their Potential’

Disorder strikes one in 42 boys, one in 189 girls — 'we recommit to ensuring they enjoy the same opportunities' as others, said president

“Millions of adults and an estimated one out of every 68 children in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of ASD [autism spectrum disorder],” President Donald Trump said in part on Monday, April 2, declaring a day dedicated to greater autism awareness in this country.

“Notwithstanding these diagnoses, Americans with ASD make exceptional contributions across our nation and around the world. On this day, we honor their accomplishments and recommit to ensuring that they enjoy the same opportunities to fulfill their potential that all Americans deserve.”

Autism spectrum disorder strikes one in 42 boys and one in 189 girls.

The condition is caused by various combinations of genetic and environmental influences, according to the advocacy group Autism Speaks, based in New York City. Autism can be diagnosed by the age of two.

The president, in the official White House proclamation on Monday, also referenced the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, which he signed into law in January. It “will provide a national framework to support families as they care for loved ones with ASD and other similar conditions,” said Trump.

According to the website, RAISE Family Caregivers Act (S. 1028/H.R. 3759) directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a national family caregiving strategy — one that identifies recommended actions for recognizing and supporting family caregivers in a manner that reflects their diverse needs.

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Related: Autism and Your Child: Are You Seeing Signs and Symptoms?

The month of April is also National Autism Awareness Month. And now comes new research showing that kids with autism and ADHD are at higher risk for anxiety and mood disorders.

A study in the journal Pediatrics examined data on more than 3,000 kids of age six to 17 and found that the conditions were more common in older children, as CBS Miami reported.

Based in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, Sesame Place, the nation’s only theme park based entirely on the PBS staple and longtime kids’ show “Sesame Street,” appears to be ahead of the curve when it comes to serving the needs of children with autism.

Together with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), the Sesame Street-inspired park announced on Monday the completion of a staffwide autism sensitivity and awareness training at the theme park.

“As the first theme park in the world to complete the training and become a CAC (Certified Autism Center), Sesame Place is better equipped to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs,” said Sesame Place park president Cathy Valeriano in a media release.

The facility is “better equipped to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs.”

In 2015, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” launched a character named Julia, a street Muppet with autism. Last spring, Julia made her debut at Sesame Place in 2017 as a walk-around character available for visitors to meet and greet.

“Since her debut, Sesame Street’s Julia has touched the lives of millions of children and families around the world, and we’re proud that partners like Sesame Place are committed to providing autism-friendly experiences,” said Scott Chambers, senior vice president and general manager of North America media and licensing with the Sesame Workshop, in a statement to the media.

“We applaud them for earning this distinction.”

Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.

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