he CDC reports that 1 in 68 children have autism, 1 in 50 school-aged children. While it is so important to have these statistics, they only reinforce what all of the individuals and families living with autism already know, that this devastating disorder is seen almost everywhere you look. Families have to fight each day to provide for their loved ones with autism, to get them the proper diagnosis and treatments, good school programs, good medical care and family support. They not only have to deal with taking care of their loved one with autism, but possibly their other children, all while trying to provide an environment conducive to the success of their family. They are faced with significant financial burdens, compounded by the challenges of being welcomed into the communities which they call home. As their children age, they are faced again with finding good medical care, programs that adequately prepare them to transition to becoming an adult and finding jobs that can productively utilize their unique talents and abilities, and more often than not, wondering where their loved ones will live and who will care for them when they are no longer able to or are gone.
As a community, we need to continue to raise awareness of autism and advocate for funding for research detecting the cause, early diagnosis and effective interventions, medicines and treatments. We need local school systems to deliver individualized and quality driven plans to meet autism’s ever growing demand for appropriate special education services. We need to address the growing issue of adults with autism, specifically around continuing education, day habilitation programs, transition, vocational training and employment, residential living opportunities and community inclusion.
It is important to ask questions and let your elected officials know they need to pay attention to these issues. Becoming informed and educated and continuing to raise awareness about Autism is necessary in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for all of our children.
~Diane Cahill, President, Autism Coalition of Long Island