Autism Visibility Continues To Increase Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dover Speedway has announced that the NEXTEL Cup race coming up there in June will be named “The Autism Speaks 400 presented by Visa”. NEXTEL Cup racing is huge here in North America and has a very large fan base. Autism Speaks is one of the largest foundations in the world that is dedicated to autism. I am happy to see them get their name on the marquee of an event like this. That can only help with awareness.

This is not the first time that autism and automobile racing have crossed paths. Jamie McMurray has an autistic niece and partnered with The Autism Society of American in 2004 when he drove the “Drive For A Cure” car. Tony Renna drove the “Cure Autism Now” car in 2003. There have been others.

It has been almost exactly 5 years since my youngest son Jake was diagnosed autistic. In those 5 years I have learned a number of things about autism and one of those things that I have learned is that there are not a lot of people who know much about autism. Awareness is increasing. That isn't because more people are reading medical journals in their free time. Aside from a dramatic increase in the number of kids being diagnosed autistic, the biggest reason that awareness is increasing is that more and more autism is showing up in the mainstream media. Recently some actors and other celebrities have been criticized for jumping on the “autism bandwagon”. These criticisms often refer to autism as the disease du jour. I don't have much to say about that except to say that raising awareness is an important part of this fight and when I see people going out of their way to help with awareness, I am happy to see that.


Michael Easter said...

That's great news re: increasing awareness....

Some close friends of mine back in Canada have a daughter with autism. I've learned a lot about the challenges and the struggles with the media.

Brad Richards (playoff MVP from the Tampa Bay Lightning) holds a celebrity golf tournament on Prince Edward Island for autism and other causes, as autism has impacted BR's family as well. My buddy has been president of the local autism society and gave me a t-shirt signed by a dozen NHLers.

I might write to you offline with some questions some time. My friends have passionately followed some theories on treatment that are somewhat controversial. They are bright and have done their homework but I'm curious to get someone else's take....