April - Autism Awareness

April is Autism Awareness month and I’d bet each one of us probably knows someone with autism; I know I do. The young lady I know is challenged both physically and mentally. The Autism Speaks website (www.autismspeaks.org) is a wealth of information. Autism is not one disorder, it is actually called autism spectrum disorder or ASD because there is a broad range, a spectrum, from very mild to very severe characteristics.

Some with very mild characteristics can function in society quite well and hold responsible jobs. At the other end of the spectrum may be the person who is nonverbal, is challenged physically and may engage in nearly constant repetitive behaviors. Those with these more severe issues may need lots of support from family, friends and social service agencies. The Autism Speaks website says “autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.”

Nobody seems to know what causes autism and the manifestations vary so widely that there is no real cure. Often the best that can be done is try to treat symptoms and help the individual cope with strengths and challenges faced. Because some of the symptoms or indicators often appear at a young age, before age 3, doctors have found that early diagnosis and intervention is the best course of action. With this early intervention, many individuals can be helped to improve the quality of their lives.

As we become more and more aware of the disorder you may know a member who is dealing with this himself or perhaps one of his family members has it. Your support, empathy and concern are usually well-received. It’s an opportunity to show Christ’s love to a neighbor. I encourage you to find out more on the website for Autism Speaks.

I can’t end this message without wishing all of you a very Blessed Easter! It’s celebrated in the Latin Church on April 12 this year. What a wondrous time in our liturgical year! While we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death and his glorious resurrection, we remember that the raising from the dead came after humiliating abuse and an agonizing death. When I pray the rosary, I sometimes try to mediate on a particular decade by placing myself in the scene of that decade. How would I, a follower of Jesus, have reacted to his crucifixion? At the cross like John…or scared and hidden away with rest of the disciples? Would I have been brave enough? Then at the first Glorious Mystery, there at the tomb, stunned in awe of the mighty power of the Resurrection.

What a mighty God we have! May each of you and your families experience the joy of this Easter season!

Vivat Jesus!