Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by people who have challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. There is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
The term "spectrum" reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism. "High functioning" or people on the upper level of the spectrum have the same condition that is commonly referred to as Asperger's Syndrome.
Autism's most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier.
The WGAF serves families in our community who have autistic children or adults in the home and financially struggle with providing vital services such as autism treatment, counseling, equine therapy, and many others.
The WGAF was created in June 2017 by community leaders in the West Georgia area who were concerned about the financial burden many families affected by autism face. We are a diverse group of people from nine west Georgia counties (Carroll, Cobb, Paulding, Douglas, Troup, Haralson, Coweta, Polk, and Heard) who are committed to improving the lives of those people with autism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.
Many autistic people are "gifted" in one particular area, i.e. music, building, memorization, mathematics, and law.
This group of local and nationally known public figures has agreed to support, endorse, and increase awareness. While the list is growing, a couple of the friends include Retired General Gary Harrell (commander of the Black Hawk, the helicopter in the true story and movie “Black Hawk Down.”) and Duane Allen; lead singer of the Oak Ridge Boys. We expect this number to continue to grow.