Autism and Its Effect on ApologetiX
Mon., May. 1. 2006 11:19pm EDT
Hello, this is J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX again. About a year ago, my youngest daughter, Kelly, was diagnosed with autism. My wife and I had noticed that her development was significantly delayed compared to her two older sisters, but we were still devastated to hear the news.
I first heard of autism as a kid while watching an episode of Celebrity Family Feud featuring the cast of "Welcome Back Kotter." Ron Palillo, the actor who played Arnold Horshack, announced they would donate their winnings to benefit autistic children. Because of his accent, I thought he was talking about "artistic" children, and I wondered why kids who were good at the arts needed the Sweathogs' money. No kidding.
Many other people were introduced to autism through Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie "Rain Man," but that's hardly the classic case of autism. Autism is a complex brain disorder that often inhibits a person's ability to communicate, respond to surroundings, or form relationships with others. First identified more than 50 years ago, autism is typically diagnosed by the age of two or three. Autism affects people of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Few disorders are as devastating to a child and his or her family. While some people with autism are mildly affected, most people with the condition will require lifelong supervision and care and have significant language impairments. Many children with autism will never be able to tell their parents they love them. We are blessed that Kelly appears to be one of those affected mildly. She is a beautiful little girl with sparking blue eyes and a lovely dimpled smile. She loves to be read to, sung to, tickled, and chased.
Thankfully, we were able to get immediate help for Kelly through local resources. She currently has five therapists who work with her for a total of fifteen hours each week, in addition to our efforts. She has responded well to all this assistance, and her communication and social skills have increased dramatically in the past year. At two and a half years of age, she knows several words (the most recent being "cookie") and some sign language. She loves to run and she can do a 25-piece jigsaw puzzle faster than any of the other four of us in the family, even if she's only seen it once.
In the past year, I have met a number of ApologetiX fans who also have children with autism. In fact, several years ago, the band did a benefit concert coordinated by a woman who had a few children with autism. Currently, the causes of autism are unknown and there are no specific medical treatments or cure. Physicians have no blood test or scan that can definitively diagnose the disorder. As such, the diagnosis of autism is based solely upon observations of behavior.
Despite increasing national interest and high prevalence, autism research is one of the lowest funded areas of medical research by both public and private sources. The National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) is getting ready for its annual signature event, Walk F.A.R. for NAAR, which is a Walk for Autism Research. Unfortunately, I'll be unable to walk, because we'll be playing a playing a concert in Oklahoma that day, which also happens to be my wedding anniversary.
My wife, Lisa, is planning to be a part of that walk, however, and I am inviting any of you who feel so inclined to join us in raising critically-needed funds for autism research by making a contribution in support of her walk. Whatever you can give will help! I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on the progress.
Click on the link below to get to get to Lisa's personal page and make a secure, online donation:
Thank you and God bless you!