Raising autism awareness | AspenTimes.com

Raising autism awareness

April is World Autism Month. As the parents to a son with autism, this month has significant personal meaning. But it’s also something every one of your readers should pay attention to.

The numbers are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism affects one in 59 children in the United States today, across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. In the next 10 years, an estimated 500,000 teens will age out of school-based services and enter adulthood. Almost half of those individuals will never get a paying job, despite the fact that research shows jobs encourage independence and reduce autism symptoms. Without significant strides being made in interventions and supports, the cost for caring for Americans with autism could exceed an estimated $461 billion by 2025.

Sadly, many individuals with autism and their families continue to feel isolated. There is still too little understanding of autism and too much judgment and lack of awareness. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each individual with autism is different. That means for every difference or challenge, there are unique strengths and qualities.

We desperately want our children to reach their full potential, to have the opportunity to work and contribute to the best of their ability. We want them to live in communities that accept their differences and create opportunities for engagement and participation. Thankfully there are programs like those offered by Ascendigo Autism Services in the Roaring Fork Valley that give children and adults with autism opportunities to grow, develop and celebrate. Whether it’s learning how to rock climb or wake surf, ski or snowboard, participants gain self-confidence, independence, social skills and, most importantly, access to the joys of outdoor recreation. Ascendigo also offers significant therapeutic and adult services supports, using methodologies that are proven to address deficits, enhance independence and better the lives of individuals with autism.

Please encourage your readers to join us in making a pledge to go blue to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism.

Kristina and Steve Tober