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Consumer Watch: Autism Awareness Month

Local support groups help families dealing with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (FILE).

April is Autism Awareness Month. There is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, but early intervention could drastically better a child's life and lessen the lifelong cost of living with the condition.

An autism diagnosis can mean many different things. There is a spectrum that can start with difficulty understanding social cues to being unable to speak or live alone. It takes an emotional toll on a family, but also a financial one. According to advocacy group Autism Speaks, autism costs a family an average of 60-thousand dollars a year.

Emily Scott’s son is on the autism spectrum, and it was community support and intervention that started to change things for him.

“It was really scary. I went through a period of denial, but then also there was the acceptance phase because some of my fears, and things that I was seeing were confirmed. But then I had some really great advice to sort of own the label and get services,” says Scott, Oklahoma Autism Center Foundation board president.

Scott is an advocate for her son, and also works to help Oklahoma families as a part of the Oklahoma Autism Center Foundation.

The Oklahoma Autism Center's work centers around supporting children and families affected by autism spectrum disorder. Currently symptoms can be identified as young as 15 to 18 months of age.

“One of the things we know is if children get intervention early it drastically reduces the lifelong cost of autism,” says Dr. Bonnie McBride, Oklahoma Autism Center director.

Early intervention reduces the need for therapy and support services later in life, which are costly. One in 68 children is affected by autism, and boys are more likely than girls to have autism spectrum disorder.

Medical professionals say it is unclear what causes the developmental disorder. There are genetic factors, but specialists say vaccines do not cause autism.

For links to resources if your child has been diagnosed or you have concerns you can find answers here.

To support upcoming local events from the Oklahoma Autism Center Foundation, click here.

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