Megan Smith-Harris was our speaker at the evening meeting on September 3. Megan is producing and directing a documentary film BOY|BLUE. The film is “a poignant, joyful portrait of the relationship between seven-year old Liam Peterson and Blue, his specially trained autism assistance dog.” In the process of discussing the film Megan also educated us about autism. Faqs from the film’s website:
What Is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex differences of brain development. These differences are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors, as well as by gifts such as increased visual skills, a heightened ability to remain focused on a task and a refreshing inclination to think outside the box.
How Common is Autism?
According to the latests statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Studies show that autism diagnosis is four to five times more common among boys than girls, but this may be a failure on our part to identify girls on the autism spectrum. Female brains are different from male brains, and this difference may impact the presentation of the child as well as the diagnosis of the professional. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are currently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders in the United States; ASD affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide.