11 Major Autism Strides of 2011 Gives Us Hope

autismThe numbers are staggering. Autism now affects one in every 110 children, one in every 70 boys. And yet 2011 was a good year for the families who are making strides to make sense of this mysterious disorder and help improve the lives of the kids who are on the spectrum.

Let's take a walk down memory lane with a look back at some of the triumphs for the autism community from 2011:


1. Autistic Boy Asks Obama to Light White House Blue

You never know until you try, and 13-year-old Wills Price tried his darndest to make sure the cause nearest and dearest to his heart is on the top of minds in Washington. The Obama Administration ultimately declined his request to have the White House join the other international hotspots that went blue for the cause, but this teen did make sure the topic is one Washington can't ignore.

2. Teen With Autism Defeats Bullies to Take Homecoming Princess Title

She was nominated by bullies trying to play a cruel trick, but Rachel Sampson didn't let them or her Asperger's keep her down. She won the title of Homecoming Princess at her high school this fall and showed the world that the bullies don't have to win.

3. One More State Supports Medical Care for Autism

Once upon a time getting insurance companies to cover services for a child on the spectrum was all but impossible. But that's slowly changing, and with California mandating this fall that companies cover these kids, there are now 27 states that put families first.

4. Teen Football Players Help Kid With Autism Make a Touchdown (VIDEO)

Among the many struggles for parents of kids on the spectrum is making sure their kids have the same opportunities as every other kid. But the coach who let Evan Reeder get into a game, and the teen boys who made sure he made a touchdown prove that a little human kindness goes a long way toward making kids feel a part of the action.

5. Incredible Teen Defends Her Special Needs Sibling Against the Haters (VIDEO)

When a video goes viral, it means people are hearing its message, and the one made by Regan, big sister to a little boy with special needs spoke volumes to the world. Just because he's different doesn't make him worthless!

6. Incredible Kid With Autism Needs Help Raising $1 Million for the Cause

Want to make a mark on the world? Christian Mast wants to make 1 million of them. The 10-year-old with autism is going after the disorder one dollar at a time, and he won't give up until he gets to his goal . . . no matter how long it takes.

7. Stranger Makes Life Changing Donation to Autistic Child

Therapy dogs have spent years cheering up elderly folks in nursing homes, but now they're beginning to change the lives of kids with autism too. And when an autistic child's pup went missing, the mysterious stranger who helped replace the dog shined a light on just how vital these animals can be.

8. 9-Year-Old Autistic Boy Starts Business to Help Others

Kent Melville may have autism, but he's proof that it's not a diagnosis that will hold him back. At 9, he's already owner of his own soda company, and helping correct the myths about what it means to have autism. 

10. James Durbin is Still an American Idol for Special Needs Families

Talk about getting autism into the national spotlight! American Idol contestant James Durbin is on the spectrum, and he sang his way into Americans' hearts this year.

11. Social Media Helps Autism Raise Serious Coin

When you attract the attention of someone like football legend Dan Marino and get a mega corporation like Samsung to kick in money for Tweets and shares, social media can make a major difference in the lives of kids with autism.

More 2011 Lists:


What's your best story of hope from 2011?


Image via BLW Photography/Flickr

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