April 2, 2014
“We want to make sure there isn’t anything wrong with your baby.” Those words struck fear in the heart of my long-ago pregnant self. As it turned out, everything was fine and I had a healthy, wonderful daughter a few months after that. But in that moment, I was terrified. What would I do? How would I care for her? What would her life be like? What would her potential be?
Once my daughter was born, there were still smaller moments of fear. Is she progressing normally? Why is she crawling with her hand tucked under like that? Is her learning on track? Will she get sick? Will she do well in school?
I know I’m very lucky. My daughter was rarely sick. She was a great student. She had a happy childhood and is now an accomplished, lovely young woman. (Of course, just because she’s an adult doesn’t mean I’ve stopped worrying).
I’m pretty sure all parents have those moments. We all want the best for our kids and we want their lives to be happy, healthy and full of success. Every child has ups and downs, but for some, the challenges are greater.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum—a ten-fold increase in prevalence over the last 40 years.
MSU is committed to looking for new approaches to research in autism, intellectual and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. In February, the university awarded funding for six new, multidisciplinary projects. (Read more)
One of those projects is led by Brooke Ingersoll, an associate professor of psychology, and examines evidence-based treatment and interventions as well as family, societal and environmental issues. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Finding Her Calling, to learn how her work with a four-year-old boy with autism when she was a senior in college led her to her research focus.
The MSU College of Human Medicine is currently involved in a Campaign for Autism Research to expand knowledge that can lead to effective prevention, treatment and even a cure. The campaign also is designed to foster more resources and greater awareness of this difficult disorder. They’ve set their donation goal high—$10 million—but believe they can reach it. To learn more or to donate, visit their webpage.
Spartan alumni are also getting involved in the issue. In 2012, less than two months after receiving his bachelor's degree in sociology and less than four months after finishing his Spartan basketball career, Anthony Ianni found himself in a leadership position to better the lives of the citizens of Michigan when he was appointed the state's new Autism Council. He also uses his own experiences to travel to schools as a motivational speaker for young people. (Learn more)
Being a student with autism, or any disability is certainly a challenge. But Spartans don’t back down from challenges. And true Spartans don’t let anyone go it alone. The MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities helps students achieve their goals at college. Watch the video in the STUDENT VIEW: Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, to learn more.
I know that all Spartan fans are disappointed that our basketball team didn’t make the Final Four. I would bet that no one was more disappointed than Adreian Payne, who wasn’t just playing for himself, his team or his university, but for one very special fan he calls Princess Lacey. If you watched the game or read the numerous articles about the topic, you already know that Lacey Holsworth is a young girl battling cancer who formed a special bond with Payne. She’s facing one of life’s biggest challenges, and she’s only eight years old. But in true Spartan fashion, Payne isn’t letting her face it alone.
Life doesn’t always work out they way we plan. We lose games. We get sick. We face incredible challenges and suffer devastating losses. But Spartans don’t quit, even after a season ends or even after we’re told we can’t do something. And Spartans always stand together.