I’m sure you have seen “Awareness Month” for one reason or another from month to month.  I know April is almost over but I thought I’d share some facts and resources about this month’s observations including Autism Awareness and Parkinson’s Awareness.

Autism RibbonAutism Awareness Month
http://www.autism-society.org/get-involved/national-autism-awareness-month/

Autism short of Autism Spectrum Disorder is a development disability

1 out of 68 children have Autism

There is no one cause for Autism

Autism is treatable and early intervention is key

Some symptoms/signs include: delay in speech, avoiding eye contact, lack of peer relationships, and more

Puzzles pieces/puzzle piece ribbon has become the symbol for Autism to represent the complexity and different colors and shapes showing the diversity of families and people

 

Parkinson's DiseaseParkinson’s Awareness Month
http://www.parkinson.org/understanding-parkinsons/what-is-parkinsons

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenative disorder that affects a portion of the brain

Symptoms usually progress slowly over years

No known cause, and no cure

Treatment includes surgery and medication

Parkinson’s itself is not fatal but complications from the disorder can be serious

A person with Parkinson’s made a symbol with a red tulip and the letters P and D in 2005

 

Autism awarenessSince April is National Autism Awareness Month I thought I would share some information about Autism.

What is Autism? “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis and intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.” (This information is from www.autism-society.org.  Please visit their website for more information.)

Please visit this link for some very interesting facts and statistics regarding Autism. http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/facts-and-statistics

 

If you can’t see it, it’s not real.  Right?  But we don’t see the air that we can feel in our lungs.  We don’t see the wind that we can feel on our skin and blow our hair.  And the same goes for people with disabilities that we (society) can’t see, they can feel them and the pain that can be associated with them.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) an individual with a disability is a person who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.  Furthermore, “A person is considered to have a disability if he or she has difficulty performing certain functions (seeing, hearing, talking, walking, climbing stairs and lifting and carrying), or has difficulty performing activities of daily living, or has difficulty with certain social roles (doing school work for children, working at a job and around the house for adults)” (Disabilities Affect One-Fifth of All Americans).

When society thinks of disabilities they usually visualize individuals who use wheelchairs and or another mobility device.  This is very far from the truth.  In 1995, 75% of people with disabilities were not using a wheelchair or mobility device (Americans with Disabilities 94-95).  Society has this idea due to our media and what it depicts as “disabled”.  The media uses people who are wheelchair users or use another mobility device (walker, cane, etc.) because society doesn’t have to question the image.  If the media used a picture of a person with an invisible disability the person would look “normal” and society would then question the image of whether it was false because the person doesn’t “look disabled.”  As we all know, people are fast to judge people (not only in the media but in our communities) by how they look.  Some people have a hard time “believing” that a person has a disabilities because they look “normal” or “fine”.

Some invisible disabilities (not an exclusive list):
ADHD
Anxiety
Asperger Syndrome
Autism
Bipolar Disorder
Brain Injury
Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Pain
Crohn’s Disease
Diabetes
Depression
Epilepsy
Fibromyalgia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Lupus
Lyme Disease
Migraines
Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Rheumatoid Arthritis

I think we all need to be reminded that people have more going on in their lives than what we can see.  And we should never assume or judge a person by his/her looks.  Don’t forget, looks can be deceiving and just because a person looks good doesn’t mean they feel good.

 

 

While you’ve probably heard of glaucoma, you may not know exactly what it is.  Glaucoma is not one disease but rather a group of eye diseases that slowly steals a person’s sight without warning.  The vision loss occurs due to damage to the optic nerve, which is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.

If you have wondered whether you or someone you know has glaucoma look for these symptoms or warning signs: trouble adjusting to a dark room; squinting or blinking due to unusually sensitivity to light or glare; change of color of iris; red-rimmed, encrusted or swollen eye lids; double vision; lines appear wavy; seeing spots or ghost-like images.

Even though glaucoma is not curable it can be controlled if detected early.  Eye drops, pills, laser procedures, and/or surgical operations can prevent or slow down further damage.

You may be wondering if glaucoma is preventable.  Research shows that causes for glaucoma seem to relate to eye pressure but there are multiple types which may be caused by injuries to the eyes, tumors and other eye diseases.

Are you wondering if you are at risk for glaucoma?  Glaucoma mostly occurs in adults age 40 or older, but there are rare cases when infants are born with glaucoma.  African Americans have a higher risk of the disease and higher chance of it beginning at a younger age with greater vision loss.  You are at a greater risk of glaucoma if you are over 40 years old, have a family history of glaucoma, have poor vision, have diabetes, or if you take systemic corticosteroid medication.

If you would like to learn more about glaucoma check out these resources:

www.kellogg.umich.edu/patientcare/conditions/glaucoma.symptoms.html

www.glaucoma.org/learn/what_is_glaucoma.php

www.webmd.com/eye-health/glaucoma-eyes