BALTIMORE, Md. – The Goucher College men's basketball coaching staff will join over 400 programs across the country in wearing a puzzle piece lapel pin over the weekend of February 1-2 for Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward to help raise awareness for Autism.
Fans are encouraged to wear blue to the Gophers men's basketball game against Susquehanna University at 2 p.m. on Saturday to increase understanding and acceptance of autism. Fans can also show their support by taking a selfie because they are at the Decker Sports and Recreation Center to cheer the Gophers against the River Hawks or because they are wearing blue. Fans are encouraged to post their pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and tag #AustismHoops and @AutismHoops, but don't forget about @GoucherSports on Twitter and @GoucherGophers on Instagram because we want to see them too!
If you are unable to attend the game on Saturday and want to raise awareness, you can still take a selfie and tag everyone above by watching an NCAA Game at home (like the Goucher-Susquehanna contest on the Goucher Sports Network) or if spot someone wearing a blue puzzle pin in the game you are watching.
Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward was created in 2014 after NCAA Coaches Pat Skerry and Tom Herrion embarked on a mission to raise awareness of autism. Inspired by their sons, both diagnosed with autism, they made a simple request to fellow coaches: Wear the Autism Speaks blue puzzle piece pin during the televised February weekend games. In an overwhelming response, more than 82 NCAA coaches and broadcasters took to the sidelines and airwaves throughout the weekend wearing the puzzle pin.
By 2018, the support soared to 375 NCAA coaches wearing the pins and more than 420 schools showing their support of people with autism. Today autism affects 1 in 59 children in the U.S. and more than 70 million people worldwide. Boys are four more times likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls with a 1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls ratio.
The 2020 goal is to continue to grow this initiative to include all Division I programs, along with other divisions and provide basketball coaches, their teams and schools with an even greater opportunity to increase global understanding and acceptance of people with autism.
Autism spectrum disorder and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development that impacts a person's ability to communicate and socialize. Individuals with autism often have repetitive behaviors and debilitating medical issues. For millions of people worldwide, autism is a household word – a word surrounded by a lifetime of unanswered questions, challenges and personal costs to the families and individuals affected.
Early intervention can improve learning, communication and social skills, as well as underlying brain development. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) and therapies based on its principles are the most researched and commonly used behavioral interventions for autism. Many children affected by autism also benefit from other interventions such as speech and occupational therapy. Developmental regression, or loss of skills, such as language and social interests, affects around 1 in 5 children who will go on to be diagnosed with autism and typically occurs between ages 1 and 3.
An estimated one-third of people with autism are nonverbal. Thirty-one percent of children with ASD have an intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] <70) with significant challenges in daily function, 25% are in the borderline range (IQ 71–85).
The cost of caring for Americans with autism had reached $268 billion in 2015 and would rise to $461 billion by 2025 in the absence of more-effective interventions and support across the life span. The majority of autism's costs in the U.S. are for adult services – an estimated $175 to $196 billion a year, compared to $61 to $66 billion a year for children. On average, medical expenditures for children and adolescents with ASD were 4.1 to 6.2 times greater than for those without autism.
For more information on Autism Speaks, go to www.autismspeaks.org.