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Early diagnosis and awareness can help turn the tide against this disorder

Imagine a daughter who does not speak one word you can understand until she is five years old, or a son who bangs his head against the wall repeatedly, while another flaps his hands, rocks his body and screams random phrases constantly.  This is the reality for many parents who have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a group of developmental disorders that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.

Being a mother or a father is one of the most precious gifts that we experience as humans, and watching your child develop and come into their own is an awe-inspiring privilege, one that many parents may take for granted.  Here’s how it goes: You have a baby, and within the first couple of years, you watch your baby take its first steps, utter its first words, and become emotionally attached to you, saying simple phrases such as “I love you.”  While these milestones may seem like normal, fundamental actions to many, developmental delay steals some of these precious moments from parents who have children with autism.

Celebrities such as Tisha Campbell-Martin, Toni Braxton and Holly Robinson Peete are dedicated to raising awareness and offering hope to those affected by ASD through hosting events, participating in documentaries such as Colored My Mind, serving as national spokespersons for organizations such as Autism Speaks, and starting foundations like the HollyRod Foundation.

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