Every year, the month of April is observed as “National Autism Awareness Month” – a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year. Sponsored by the National Autism Society, the campaign aims to educate the general public about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – a range of neuro-developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. ASD is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. The disorder comprises repetitive patterns of behavior. The term “spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. The condition can be present either by birth or form during early childhood (typically within the first three years). Treatment options for ASD include medications and a host of behavioral, communication and educational therapies. Developmental pediatricians, child neurologists and child psychologists / psychiatrists treating autism patients can rely on medical billing outsourcing companies to report ASD diagnosis and screening accurately.

According to reports from the Autism Society, approximately 1 in every 59 American children lives with ASD. This means that around 500,000 of young people who turn 18 over the next decade enter adulthood with ASD. The monthly campaign offers a unique platform to increase awareness about autism signs, symptoms and opportunities through – information and referrals, events, printable and digital resources, and community partnerships with businesses and organizations dedicated to building inclusive experiences. Generally, the symptoms of ASD become completely visible by the age of 2 years. Each child with ASD is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior and level of severity – from low functioning to high functioning. Common symptoms include – not pointing at objects to show interest, having trouble relating to others, repeating actions over and over again, having trouble adapting to routine changes, poor eye contact and lack of facial expression.

The 2020 monthly event was launched to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and ensure that each person with ASD is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life. It aims to educate people about the importance of early diagnosis of ASD and how this intervention can help an autistic child to reach his/her potential and live a meaningful life as an integral part of the society. As autism spectrum disorder varies widely in symptoms and severity, making a correct diagnosis can often be a challenging task. Specialists may begin the diagnosis by closely observing the child’s social interactions, communication and behavioral skills and evaluating how it has developed over the different stages of his/her growth. In addition, genetic testing will also be done to identify whether the child has a genetic disorder such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome. The ultimate goal of treatment is to maximize the child’s ability to function by reducing symptoms and supporting development and learning. Treatment options may focus on medications, behavior and communication therapies, educational therapies, family therapies and other therapies (like physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapies).

The diagnosis tests and other procedures performed by developmental pediatricians, child neurologists, child psychologists and specialists must be carefully documented using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services ensure this so that claim denials are avoided. The ICD-10 code for ASD diagnosis is –

  • F84.0 – Autistic disorder

The theme for the 2020 campaign is #CelebrateDifferences. Designed to build a better awareness of the signs, symptoms, and realities of autism, #CelebrateDifferences focuses on providing information and resources for communities to be more aware of autism, promote acceptance, and be more inclusive in everyday life.

The National Autism Society which sponsors the monthly campaign was founded in 1965 by Dr. Rimland, to promote research and offer guidance for those who lived with this condition. The Autism Society went to bat for Autism sufferers by helping to establish legislation in Section 504 of the disabilities act to recognize and protect them. Their campaigns started in the early 1970s and are still going strong today. Autism Awareness Month was established to promote a better understanding between those with Autism and be a part of the world they live in, not stand outside looking in.

The Autism Society has a variety of resources designed to inform and encourage communities to celebrate differences, and become more inclusive of individuals with autism. People can actively take part in this campaign by attending seminars, conferences and participating in runs or walking a marathon (that support the research). The event also encourages people to show their support by making posts under the hash tags – #CelebrateDifferences, #KindnessCounts, and #WorldAutismMonth via several social media platforms. You can show your support towards the autistic community by wearing the Autism awareness puzzle ribbon and educate people on the potential of people with autism. The public can also consider participating in the “Autism Speaks Kindness Quest” – a weekly kindness activity to “make 2020 the year of kindness and help create a kinder, more inclusive world”. They can also share Autism Society’s COVID-19 resources for the autism community with family, friends, and educators.

Show your support towards “Autism Awareness Month” this April. Join the national effort to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism.