Let’s Move from Autism Awareness to Autism Acceptance

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.

 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.

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