April 17, 2006

Athletes Against Autism

Athletes Against Autism

Sometimes hockey players have more important goals on their minds than the ones that are scored on the ice. Take Olaf Kolzig, Byron DaFoe and Scott Mellanby for example. The three NHLers had their lives turned upside down when their kids were diagnosed with autism.

But the three courageous players didn't let the developmental disability bring them down, even though there is no known cause or cure. The players got together to form Athletes Against Autism (AAA), an initiative of the Cure Autism Now Foundation (CAN), a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific research with the goal of finding the cause, effective treatments and a cure for autism.

AAA is a group of athletes who were personally touched by the developmental disability, who are banding together to help raise awareness and funds for autism research, treatment and education programs. As fathers of children with autism, they realized the importance of using their status and influence to make an impact on the over 1.5 million people in the United States alone affected by autism.

Studies show that every 21 minutes, a child is diagnosed with autism. So what that means is that every 21 minutes another family is introduced to the disability. All people with autism demonstrate impairments in communication and social skills.

Because of the efforts of Kolzig, DaFoe and Mellanby, NHL teams are pitching in to help out. Autism Awareness Nights have been held in Washington, Anaheim, Nashville and Long Island this season, raising funds for the worthy cause and growing awareness to the disability. Two more events in Philadelphia and Atlanta on April 15 are scheduled before the end of the regular season. AAA will hold a celebrity golf tournament in Santa Barbara, Calif. — its major fundraising event — in June. The goals of the event will be to raise awareness, and to raise funds in support of the research initiatives of Cure Autism Now.

According to the AAA website, autism is believed to currently affect 1 in every 166 people. The rate of people being diagnosed with autism has increased substantially over the past two decades. Although this may be in part due to improved diagnostic techniques and to changes in the criteria for autism spectrum disorders, the majority of experts agree these changes are not enough to explain the epidemic rates at which autism is being diagnosed. It is four times more prevalent in males than females.

For more info on autism, go to AAA's official website: www.athletesagainstautism.org or email them at aaa@cureautismnow.org


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Disability Blogger said...

I read a while back (I think in a CNN or BBC article, can't remember) that the incidence of autism was on the rise. The article stated that the chance of having a child with autism seemed to go up when both parents were of fairly high intelligence. Actually, it wasn't just intelligence. It had more to do with when both parents were intelligent AND analytical in nature.