World Autism Awareness Day

Today is the fifth annual World Autism Awareness Day.  The theme this year, from Autism Speaks, is Light It Up Blue with landmarks like the Empire State Building going blue tonight.  This starts a month of awareness events to shine a light on the issues around autism.  World autism Awareness Day was started in 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly.

It is estimated that 1 in every 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum.   That's about 1.5M Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is the most prevalent developmental disorder to date.  Studies suggest that boys are more likely to be born with it than girls but girls appear to develop the more severe types of autism. 

From the Autism Speaks website:

Will my child be able to attend school?
Most likely yes. Much depends on where your child falls on the spectrum, but with your support, as well as that of doctors, therapists and teachers, your child should be able to attend school. In fact, it's his right: According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990, which mentions autistic children specifically, your child deserves access to a “free and appropriate” education funded by the government, whether it be in a mainstream or special education classroom.

Working for Autism Speaks, a law firm put together a 26-page guide for parents and students that contains an IEP timeline.

There's also a great poster at the Executive Healthcare site, showing facts and by the numbers for autism.

As someone whose family has been affected by autism, I want to give a pat on the back to families and friends with an autistic loved one who are also affected.


SeattleSped said…
Thank you for posting this Melissa. There are too many people who think our children have no right to be in the classroom, that they are a "burden". Many on the autism spectrum are cognitively normal or, in fact, highly intelligent. They can (and do) go on to lead fruitful lives. IDEA says that schools MUST provide an appropriate education, meaning the supports that these children need. This must be done in the least-restrictive environment. This law is the Civil Rights Law for the differently-abled.

DeBell, Carr and others would cut or cap budgets for special education, while spending it on new programs, options, and otherwise Very Special Schools. Some of these programs are not available to our kids. As frequest SSC poster Floorpie wrote on her blog:

"I’ll tell you what parents really want. How about, before we colonize any more Very Special Schools, we get all the special ed students in Seattle the teacher’s aides and speech therapists and OT services that they need? How about instead of telling them to suck it up and be bullied and stop being so autistic about it, we give teachers the tools to help them? How about instead of saying “Maybe you and your autism would be more comfortable over there at that less popular school…oh, until we decide WE want it for OUR purposes,” we could focus on serving all kids at all schools."

Floor Pie said…
Thanks, SeattleSped. For context, I just want to point out that I said that in response to Kay Smith-Blum's remark at a recent board meeting that we ought to turn B.F. Day into another foreign language immersion school to appease the disappointed parents who got zoned out of JSIS.

Looks like it's not going to happen, but just the fact that she had the audacity to even suggest it...ugh, don't even get me started.
SeattleSped said…
Floorpie, you speak with the passion we all feel.

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