Autism Speaks: Awareness

BACKGROUND & CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

America is facing an urgent health crisis as rates of autism have been increasing at alarmingly high rates in recent years. Twenty years ago, 5 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with the disorder – by 2010, that figure has soared to a staggering 1 in 110 – a 600% increase1. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer – combined2.

Despite the shockingly high prevalence, the majority of parents didn't think of autism or that it could affect their child. Those who claimed to be familiar with the disorder tended to have very limited knowledge, referring to sources such as the movie “Rain Man.” Additionally, while all parents want the best for their children, the thought of a developmental disorder with no cure can cause tremendous fear and lead them to tune out important messages regarding their child's health. Mothers who were somewhat aware of the disorder tended to dismiss it as something that “happens to somebody else,” even when their own young children showed potential signs of autism. This created a significant hurdle for us to overcome, as most parents shut down before we could even begin a dialogue on the subject. Ultimately, we had to convince parents that autism is something they needed to know about, and put it on their radar.