The rising prevalence of autism in the United States has been a topic of discussion for some time now. New statistics that are being revealed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health organizations indicate that autism presently affects around 1 in every 90-110 children. I have touched on topics in the past that are relevant to autism awareness on a global scale and what we should be doing to ensure that children receive the care they need.
Here in the U.S., where exposure of autism is much more than in some other countries, I wonder what happens after all the testing is done and the diagnosis becomes clear. Where does this leave our children? How can we ensure that they will be included and not ostracized? At the onset level, the ideal situation is that some early-intervention model is implemented to ensure that the child gets the best possible chance of battling this disorder.
But, what happens after? In most cases, if it is determined that you should receive services, the state will only cover therapy until the age of 3.5 or once they enter the school system. After this, it is the responsibility of the school to pick up where the previous services left off.
This is tricky for many reasons. Autism is a spectrum disorder (ASD), which means it spans a wide variety of characteristics. As a result, many children may present more severe symptoms and require extra attention and care, while others may need help mainly with their socializing skills but were able to catch up in language and reading through early intervention. For this reason, a generic program is not always ideal for a child suffering with autism. Programs must be tailored to fit a child’s individual needs, and in some states, where resources are limited, this is extremely challenging.
Early intervention is a key step in helping your child, but maintaining that progress as well as encouraging even more advancement is where the difficulty lies, and for many children who enter our public schools, this dream falls through the cracks. While some states are dedicating time and resources to developing special programs that will help to ensure brighter outcomes for students with ASD, others are still struggling to catch up. Some parents opt for private solutions, placing their children in special schools, or paying out-of-pocket for supplemental services- all of which can be very costly.
Initiatives are being pushed all over the U.S. but it is encouraged that everyone take time out to contact their state and local representatives and rally support for autism, this could help to ensure much better outcomes for the generations that follow us. Additionally, researching the public schools in your area and gaining a better understanding of their structure will help you decide if they will greatly benefit your child or if you may need to seek extra help.
One organization that is on the forefront of this battle is Autism Votes, whose website can be found by clicking here.