April Fool's Day is just around the corner. April 1st is an important day in our family as it is the birthday of our firstborn, Brendan.

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We look forward to April for another reason as it is Autism Awareness Month. We are Autism Advocates because our daughter Danielle was diagnosed with Autism at age 4.

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Although we like to joke that we went "kicking and screaming into autism," we now never miss an opportunity to spread awareness about this disorder.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that there is a wide degree of variation in the way it affects people. The puzzle piece is a great choice for the autism symbol because it represents the mystery and complexity of the disorder.

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Autism affects language, social skills and repetitive behavior. It is a lifelong disorder. Our daughter remains non-verbal at age 17, but has become very effective at communicating through an electronic augmentative communication machine as well as sign language. She has made so much progress in the years since her diagnosis. It has been challenging at times for our family but it has also been inspiring to see her progress and to discover that she is a valued and cherished member of our family and society.

An alarming number of children are diagnosed with autism today: 1 in 68 children in the United States. Many people have a family member with autism or know someone with the disorder. When it comes to education early intervention yields the highest degree of success. Therefore, it is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis and get your child into an Early Intervention program as soon as possible.

April 2, 2o16 has been dedicated as World Autism Day. On this day people all over the globe will wear blue and light up their communities to spread awareness. We have our blue light bulb and are ready to light it up. We hope you will too!

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Copyright 2016 David and Mercedes Rizzo.
All photos copyright 2016 David and Mercedes Rizzo. All rights reserved.