Startling lack of autism awareness at CSUN

Nicholas Collard

Autism is such a prevalent disorder in our country, and yet there is almost no dialogue about it in our daily discourse. I have spent four years on this campus, among thousands of people and a countless number of cloth-draped special interest fundraiser booths, and have never heard a single word spoken to me about autism. It just is not something we think about.

According to the Autism Society of America, autism is a neurological disorder that alters a person’s communication abilities in both verbal and non-verbal forms, as well as their abilities to interact socially and participate in leisurely activities.

What is most startling is the rate of increase in autism cases in the past few years. Currently the rate of autism is 1 in 166 births, and approximately 1.5 million Americans have some form of the disability.

While the average rate of disabilities in this nation has risen by 16 percent, the autism rate has risen at the immensely disproportionate rate of 172 percent.

It cannot be said that the issue is completely ignored on campus, though. The CSUN Center for Disabilities has devoted a considerable amount of effort to building awareness on our campus about autism and various treatment options.

This year’s primary topic was the use of newly designed computer software to help autistic children develop their reading and communication skills.

For those who face the stress and pain associated with caring for somebody with autism, I can only praise you for your courage and strength in the face of such adversity. The condition is not an easy one to manage, and yet there are always loving parents and relatives who stand willing to put everything on the line to help their loved ones find a light.

Those who do not have to face autism should at least understand it and try to help those who do. It is not something to joke around about. This condition is serious and worsening.