April 2nd is World Autism Acceptance Day, kicking off Autism Acceptance Month. While most people are generally aware of autism, a major problem facing people and their families who live with autism is a lack of acceptance and understanding. For this reason, the Washington University Neurofibromatosis (NF) Center joins with the greater autism community to improve understanding and inclusion.
What Is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that interferes with how a person thinks, communicates, learns, socializes, and understands the world around them. ASD is common in children with NF1, affecting 25-30% of children. In this manner, understanding how NF1 causes autism provides a unique opportunity to identify new treatments for children with NF1-associated, as well as non-NF1-associated, autism.
Typically, children with NF1 may show signs of autism as toddlers or preschoolers, but may not be given a formal diagnosis until later in childhood (7-8 years of age). Prompt recognition is essential in order to provide early interventions and therapies. If you have questions about autism, you should discuss them with your NF provider.
Ways to Promote Autism Acceptance
Share Autistic Voices. Consider reading a book with your child by an author with autism. Suggested readings include:
- The Someday Birds by Sally J. Plia
- Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos
- The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family by Sarah Kapit
- A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
- Visit the Pittsburg Center for Autistic Advocacy’s Autistic Libary for additional options
Support Self-Advocacy Groups and Autism Organizations. Consider supporting organizations that provide resources for children and families living with autism.
- Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (www.autisticadvocacy.org/)
- Judevine Center for Autism (www.judevine.org)
- Washington University Autism Clinical Center (www.childpsychiatry.wustl.edu/clinical-services/autismcenter/)
To learn more about research into the causes of autism in NF1, please visit the Washington University NF Center website.