By Kodey Toney
Start Spreading the News
I was asked to speak this weekend at the “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” autism walk in Stigler. I was honored to be asked, but wasn’t sure what to talk about. I mean, what do you tell a bunch of parents who are working hard to spread autism awareness? You see the problem I tend to have is feeling that I don’t have much to share sometimes. I sometimes forget that there are parents who are just starting out as autism warriors.
So when one of the organizers said, “Many of these people around here no nothing about autism,” I thought, “Wow, how can that be?”
Confirmation of this was earlier in the week when I held a workshop at the college to spread awareness. There were more than 30 students there to listen to my presentation about the basics of autism. I would say that 70 percent of the crowd new little or nothing about the disorder.
I asked if they knew someone with autism and about 10 raised their hands. That’s about a third of the group.
I tried to explain to this audience, and the crowd at Stigler, that this was growing so rapidly that even if you or your neighbors don’t know much about it, everyone soon will.
“We have to continue to spread the word,” I said in Stigler. “We have to let others know what an issue this really is.”
I continued to explain the statistics to them. For those of you who don’t know, the Center for Disease Control recently released that 1 out of 50 now are diagnosed. That’s up 72 percent from a few years ago and up from the 1 in 88 just last year. Only five years ago it was 1 in 110, and in 1980 it was 1 in 1,000. These numbers are going to continue to rise and when they do everyone in the world will be affected.
It’s already more prominent than juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer, and pediatric aids combined, according to autism speaks.
It’s become such a part of my life I forget that not everyone is aware of this issue. I want to challenge everyone who reads this to help spread the word. If you come up to someone in conversation you may sneak in these facts.
I applaud the ladies who put on the autism walk again. They did a great job in raising more than $1,600 for the Oklahoma Autism Network. They also opened the topic of conversation to a community who is relatively new to the cause.
It’s a big deal; whether the rest of the world knows it yet or not.