Autism speaks, so listen up

Next time you visit Panera Bread, you might notice the addition of puzzle piece cookies to their selection of baked goods.

Panera will be selling these cookies by the dozen and half-dozen during the first week of April, with 100 percent of profits going to Autism Speaks.


Next time you visit Panera Bread, you might notice the addition of puzzle piece cookies to their selection of baked goods.

Panera will be selling these cookies by the dozen and half-dozen during the first week of April, with 100 percent of profits going to Autism Speaks.

The Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month for decades. The Untied States acknowledges April as Nation Autism Awareness Month. There are several ways to get involved, but first, get educated.

Autism is a growing national concern. It’s a complex developmental disability typically appearing during the first few years of life. It affects and challenges a person’s ability to communicate and interact. Autism is often defined by a particular set of actions and behaviors. It manifests in a variety of ways and at varying degrees. There is no single known cause, which is why raising awareness is vital.

In December 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report which declared that in America, one in every 110 babies is born with autism. The statistic is higher for boys, as one in every 70 boys is born with the disability. The average cost of raising an autistic child ranges between $3.5 million and $5 million. The United States allocates around $90 billion to fund costs, research, education, housing, employment and care givers. One can never outgrow or rid oneself of autism, but if diagnosed early on, one can intervene and set it on a somewhat controlled path.

While the cause has never been pinpointed, it’s typically acknowledged as an abnormality in the structure or function. Researchers have been investigating the causes. While there have been some ties to genes and heredity, there has been no success in finding one single gene that causes autism. Without finding the trigger for autism, there is no surefire way to cure it.

There are plenty of ways to get involved and help raise awareness. Each state has a list of local chapters of Autism Speaks, one of the largest foundations for autism. Throughout the month of April, there will be a plethora of events and fundraisers, including the week-long sale of cookies at Panera.