The challenge… Spread autism awareness, today, and every day. On the first day of International Autism Awareness month, we set aside sports in favor of advocacy.
Autism. You’re living with it. You either have a family member affected by the mental disorder (remember, it’s not a disease), you know someone connected to it, or you’re impacted in the future through impacts to the health care system.
This is the fourth year of our Autism Awareness Challenge. The premise is simple: set sports aside and spread awareness about the Autism Spectrum Disorder. This year takes on added urgency. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows alarming numbers. According to the report:
About 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network
ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
Those diagnosed as being on the autism scale has increased 78% in the last decade, alone
ASDs are almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252).
Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with an ASD with an average prevalence of about 1%. A recent study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%.
About 1 in 6 children in the U.S. had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.
“The CDC numbers are alarming, yet they don’t begin to tell the story of the real families, real individuals struggling every day,” said Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr. “From fighting to get a diagnosis and secure appropriate educational services and therapies, to trying to manage tremendous financial and emotional burdens or find a satisfying job opportunity, families are engaged in a daily battle against this disorder. We need to marshal the same resources and attention that the government has devoted to other diseases and disorders and finally make this a fair fight.”
As we have done each year, we have reached out to the sports and entertainment community to help lend support. In doing so, we have seen individuals that simply wish to help, but also those that are touched directly by autism. Be it the granddaughter of Seattle Mariners President Chuck Armstrong who has autism, Dodgers’ outfield Matt Kemp who has a brother with autism, actress Alyssa Milano who also has been directly touched by the developmental disorder, or Ryan and Dawn Neufeld, in reaching out to the community we have seen just how far reaching autism is.
With today being the beginning of International Autism Awareness Month, all the Business of Sports Network sites have been rebranded to remind you about this campaign, and within each post this month, we will be providing a link to Autism Speaks for those that wish to donate to assist in funding research on autism.
Here is how the Autism Society of America describes autism:
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" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.
Currently, the Autism Society estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million, and that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism (this figure includes research, insurance costs and non-covered expenses, Medicaid waivers for autism, educational spending, housing, transportation, employment, in addition to related therapeutic services and caregiver costs).
Know the Signs: Early Identification Can Change Lives
Autism can be addressed through therapy. Children do not "outgrow" autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.
Here are some signs to look for in the children in your life:
Lack of or delay in spoken language
Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
Little or no eye contact
Lack of interest in peer relationships
Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
Persistent fixation on parts of objects
IF YOU ARE WITHIN THE MEDIA, WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO JOIN THE CAMPAIGN, AS WELL AS AUTISM SPEAKS EFFORTS. LINK OR REPURPOSE THIS MATERIAL TO HELP THE CAUSE.
The following have lent their name in saying they support autism awareness, if you wish to be added to the list, please contact Maury Brown, president of the Business of Sports Network via email for more details.
Stan Kasten - Baseball exec. Future President and CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers
Allan Walsh - NHL player agent, Octagon
Martin Havlat - Right Wing, Minnesota Wild
Matt Kemp - Outfielder, Los Angeles Dodgers
Peter Gammons - MLB Network, MLB.com, NESN
John Thorn - Author, Official Historian Major League Baseball
Chuck Armstrong - President, Seattle Mariners
Larry Cancro - Senior Vice President of Fenway Affairs for the Boston Red Sox. Also Chairman of Autism Speaks, New England. Board member Melmark, New England a school that specializes in autism and similar cognitive disabilities
Jim Trotter - Senior NFL writer, Sports Illustrated
Sean Foreman - President, Sports Reference, LLC
Ken Davidoff - National baseball writer, Newsday
Kathy Conners - Principal & Founder KMC Consulting
Doug Farrar - Writer for Football Outsiders, Yahoo! Sports, Sportspress Northwest and The Washington Post
Chuck Greenberg - Founder, Greenberg Sports Group, Owner, Myrtle Beach Pelicans and State College Spikes
Jim Duquette - Sirius/XM Radio MLB Network Radio, former GM Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets
David Kahn - President, Basketball Operations, Minnesota Timberwolves
Alyssa Milano - Television, screen and stage actor
Ryan and Dawn Neufeld - Ryan is 7-year NFL veteran playing tight-end; Dawn has been featured on VH1's "NFL Wives", honorary chairs of Dallas Rocks Against Autism
Jonathan Schaech - Actor and social activist. As seen in the movie "That Thing You Do" and more.
Larry Stone - National baseball writer, The Seattle Times
Troy Renck - MLB beat reporter, Denver Post
Kevin "'Duk" Kaduk - Editor of Y! Sports' Big League Stew
Dave Goren - Executive Director of National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association & Hall of Fame
George Atallah - Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs for the NFL Players Association
Mike Donnelly - Media Coordinator for the NFLPA
Ken Rosenthal - FOXSports.com, MLB Network
Dave Sims - Television play-by-play commentator for the Seattle Mariners, radio play-by-play for Sunday Night Football on Westwood One, television play-by-play host for UFL on VERSUS
Joe Hamrahi - Baseball Daily Digest, Baseball Prospectus
Richard Justice - Sports columnist, Houston Chronicl
Todd Radom - Graphic artist, sports logo creator
Joe Briggs, Esq
Curt and Shonda Schilling
Mike Ferrin - Host & Anchor, MLB Network Radio
Brent Gambill - Executive Producer, Sirius/XM Radio
Dave Barr - Producer, Sports Talk With Bo Mattingly. KREB 1190 Fayetteville, KTTG ESPN 96.3 FM Ft. Smith, KABZ 103.7 FM Little Rock
Russ Levine, VP of Digital Production for NHL.com
Jamie Newberg - NewbergReport.com
Pat Courtney - MLB VP Public Relations
Mike Dilorenzo - NHL spokesperson
Jason Rosenberg - It’s About the Money, Stupid blog
Jason Collette - DRaysBay.com /BaseballProspectus/Rotowire