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Written by:  Odile Fredericks
Date: July 18, 2012

It's hot, even in the evening. Why not get in on a deal on cool indoor fun that supports a great cause? The entertainment venue Pump it Up of Raleigh is opening it doors for free play from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, when you make a donation to Autism Speaks. That organization funds research into causes, treatment and cures for autism and advocates for people with the brain disorder and their families.

Pump It Up of Raleigh is among 150 Pump It Up locations across the country partnering with Autism Speaks to invite the public to its fourth annual Great Open Jump. Pump It Up's goal is to raise $100,000 in donations for Autism Speaks.

The fundraiser comes as the rate of autism has hit a new high. About one in 88 children in the U.S. has autism or a related disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimate—reported in March by Reuters—represents a near-doubling of the rate reported in 2002. The latest figures also show that autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than girls – with 1 in 54 boys identified. The CDC report was based on data gathered in 2008 from 14 communities, including central North Carolina. Julie Daniels, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who collaborated on the CDC study, said autism in North Carolina is slightly higher than the national average and more prevalent than previously estimated, according to UNC News Services. The CDC estimated the autism rate for North Carolina is 1 in 70 children; the rate for boys is 1 in 43, and for girls it is 1 in 196.

If you are concerned that your child may have autism, have him or her evaluated as soon as possible. Early evaluation often brings the benefit of early intervention services, which can make a tremendous difference in the lives of children and their caregivers, as this mom, who lives in the Triangle, said in an interview earlier this year.  She found help for her son who has autism, at Project Enlightenment, an early childhood education and intervention program of the Wake County Public School System.

And tools for helping children with autism are growing. On Friday, for instance, UNC reported that a 10-minute questionnaire completed by parents may help identify 1-year-olds who are at risk for autism. Researchers with the UNC School of Medicine found that 31 percent of children identified through the questionnaire as at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at 12 months received a confirmed diagnosis of ASD by 3 years of age. Also, 85 percent of the children found to be at risk for ASD based on results from the questionnaire, had some other developmental disability or concern by age three.

Parents who seek help early for their children, not only help their children by giving them the gift of early therapies, but they themselves gain support from other parents in similar situations. Caregivers also learn to understand children's disorders so they can react in a way that is helpful to them.




If you have a child with autism or special needs, you'll find lots of information and Triangle-area resources in Carolina Parent's Special Kids, a free award-winning print and online publication for children with special needs.



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