April Is Autism Awareness Month

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In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is working to raise awareness about the complex developmental disability, promoting new resources produced by Kentucky families and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help others better understand and cope with autism.

“Many children are affected by autism, which is more effectively managed when identified early,” said Ruth Shepherd, M.D., director of the division of maternal and child health in Department for Public Health. “There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today. That’s why it’s important to get these materials into the hands of the medical community and, ultimately, families in need of autism resources and services.”

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The CDC created materials to help families learn more about the importance of measuring their child’s social and emotional progress in the first few years of life. “Learn the Signs. Act Early” is a video produced to educate families about early childhood development, including potential early warning signs of autism and other developmental disabilities.

In Kentucky, a new resource, Kentucky's Family Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders, has been developed and written by family members of individuals with autism spectrum disorders featuring examples from personal experiences. It includes information on what to do when a child is diagnosed and other helpful resources.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" meaning that it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. The CDC estimates the prevalence of autism has risen to 1 in every 150 children.

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