It’s hard to believe, but April has been recognized as Autism Awareness month since 2007. I started writing about it in 2012. That is the year that I began my blog…10 years ago!
As I look back over the years, I think about the enormous changes.
- CDC recently released its latest prevalence rate estimates, one in 44 or 2.27% of 8-year-old American children have Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is a 23% increase from two years ago when the figure was 1:54.
- Because so much publicity has been directed to the signs of autism, parents are often the first to recognize the possible characteristics of autism and consult their physician. This is a very important outcome, as early diagnosis is critical.
- Educational opportunities increased tenfold as colleges and universities began offering special education certification in the field of autism. More qualified teachers allowed schools to expand programs for children with autism.
- We also began to understand fully that autism is a spectrum disorder and that we have children who are on all levels: mild, moderate, and severe. For each, a different level of educational programming is mandated for their free appropriate education. COVID brought many challenges for our students…and we are still working through them.
- We have made significant progress in improving access to opportunity for persons with autism. However, we know that there are still significant gaps in employment and income.
- How can you assist during April? Spread the word about Acceptance of children and adults with autism in the schools, jobs, and in society as a whole. If you are an employer, consider our Supported Employment Program. Information on this program can be found at: https://www.barberinstitute.org/adults/employment/supported-employment
At the Barber National Institute, we strive to be part of the fabric of our society and have found Erie to be a welcoming community. That has been because of Acceptance. We have made great strides, but more can be done…. through Acceptance.