Campaign set to raise funds for autistic children

Autism, a developmental communications disorder that can be diagnosed before the age of two, affects one in 240 Israeli children.

eyes of children (photo credit:)
eyes of children
(photo credit: )
A fundraising campaign for autistic children will be held on Tuesday, with donors able to give NIS 10 by sending an SMS marked "10" to 2700 via cellphone. In addition, funds can be donated to ALUT - the Israeli Society For Autistic Children - by calling 1-800-855-558. Autism, a developmental communications disorder that can be diagnosed before the age of two, affects one in 240 Israeli children, and the rate is growing. It is even more common - one in 150 children - in the US, where the American Academy of Pediatrics recently announced an ambitious program to promote routine screening for all infants before their second birthdays. The cause is not known, and there is no cure, but early recognition and intervention can make a significant difference in the outcomes for autistic children. The screening involves a checklist examination for the infant's parent or caregiver to fill out in the waiting room while the pediatrician attends to the routine examination of the 18- or 24-month-old child. The subtle signs include: not turning when parents say the baby's name; not turning to look when the parent points and says, "Look at..."; not pointing to show parents an interesting object or event; smiling late; lack of back-and-forth babbling; and failure to make eye contact. In addition to Tuesday's fundraising campaign, a public campaign to increase awareness of autism and raise funds for ALUT has been launched and will appear on billboards, TV, radio and Web site banners until February 25. ALUT director-general Zvi Idan said there was much demand for treatment frameworks for autistic toddlers and older children and an urgent need to train professionals to meet their special needs. The money collected during the campaign will be used for this and other services.