By LAURIE FISHER
At a time when increased research and awareness of autism are desperately needed, Vocal Point is giving a benefit concert on campus Friday night to raise funds for autistic children.
“It’s a disease that kills the spirit of both the child and the family,” said Lisa Boswell, a graduate student from Provo majoring in audiology who is raising an autistic child.
According to the national institutes of health, two in every 1,000 children are on the autistic spectrum. Children with autism have a developmental disability, but it is not a life-taking disease.
Autism is more frequent than childhood cancer, multiple sclerosis or cystic fibrosis; however, it receives less than five percent of the funding that these diseases do.
Autistic children are often institutionalized because parents do not have the strength to deal with their childs’ behavioral problems. Depending on the severity of the disease, the problems can range from biting themselves to screaming and running away from being held or touched.
The wide range of symptoms makes diagnosis and treatment of autism a real challenge for doctors. There is no known cure or cause.
For Boswell, autism is an everyday reality as she raises her 6-year-old autistic son. Boswell’s son is mute, as are approximately 40 percent of autistics. Fortunately, the Boswells can communicate with him through sign language, but not all mute children respond to it, she said.
Boswell has taken an active approach by becoming a member of the Cure Autism Now international parent advisory board.
CAN is a foundation of both a scientific work group and an international parent advisory board dedicated to motivating the growth of scientific research and fund raising.
“There is a part of autism that is truly a nightmare. No parent should have to go through that nightmare,” Boswell said. “I think that for the autism community, sometimes it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and alone. A concert like this can not only generate funds, but also a sense of community and show that other people want to help.”
The campus chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) is sponsoring the event in connection with CAN.
Students in NSSLHA work with autistic children and children with other disabilities, so are excited to sponsor the Vocal Point concert, said NSSLHA President Jenny Willardson, a senior from San Diego, Calif. majoring in speech-language pathology.
Vocal Point will do about seven benefit concerts this year. Most of the money will be given to CAN research for autism.
The Vocal Point concert is Friday at 7:30 p.m. in 2084 JKHB. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in 3146 JKHB or at the door.