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Coming together for autism awareness

Chances are many of us know someone who is affected by autism and Asperger's syndrome. In fact, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that autistic spectrum disorder effects 1 in 68 children today, and that number continues to grow year after year.  While life for individuals with autism and Asperger's syndrome is extremely difficult for both that individual and their loved ones, there are ways that we can lend a hand in support—and April is the perfect time to do just that.

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and in support, I wanted to share my personal experience with Asperger's syndrome in my family and let you all know about the great things that the Asperger/Autism Network (AANE) of New England is doing to help families who are affected by it. I encourage all of you to read this story, hear how Experian Data Quality has gotten involved, and hopefully inspire those of you who are interested to get involved as well. 

Asperger’s syndrome hits very close to home for me since my brother lives with Asperger’s syndrome. As he was growing up, he quickly began to see that he would not be able to accomplish the same things as almost everyone around him. He will never drive a car. He would not attend a college or learn a trade. He has difficulty with the simple skills that are essential to becoming a member of the daily workforce. As a result, he grew up frustrated and angry. Over time, this created an incredible strain on my family.

Since there is no medicine or cure for this disease, much of the treatment that is available relies on a combination of therapy and behavior analysis which requires a great deal of training, support, and resources that are not available for many families and individuals.

Through years of attempting to address my brother’s issues, my family quickly saw that there was limited education, employment training, and housing opportunities available for people with autism and Asperger’s. This lack of resources exacerbates the difficulty facing each person affected by autism and Asperger’s. As a community we must find a way to provide those individuals with the skills that they need so that they can still contribute and help their families in the process. Luckily, the Asperger/Autism Network does just that.

The Asperger/Autism Network has been a tremendous resource for my family.  The organization works with individuals, families, and professionals to help people with Asperger's syndrome and similar autism spectrum profiles build meaningful, connected lives.  They do this by providing information, education, community, support, and advocacy, all in an atmosphere of validation and respect.  The AANE provides support and community to adults with Asperger's syndrome and their parents, partners, siblings, grandparents, friends, employers, relatives, families of children and teens with Asperger's, and educators and other professionals who work with people with Asperger's syndrome. 

As part of our annual holiday party at Experian Data Quality, we chose AANE as the benefactor of our charity efforts.  I was overwhelmed by the level of support from Experian and my fellow employees.  As a result of our efforts, we were able to raise over $7,000 for AANE which will go into supporting and growing the existing programs that they have developed for those affected by this disease. 

Autism and Asperger’s affects individuals and families across the globe.  Whether you personally know someone affected, or are reading this post and learning more about the lives of individuals with autism and Asperger’s, we would love to keep the support going. I would ask that you click the link below to learn more about AANE and if possible, lend a hand to these individuals and families during the month of April.  How far can we spread this message? 

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