As many of you probably already know the Center For Disease Control (CDC) made an announcement on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at noon concerning their new estimated rates for the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the United States among individuals 21 and under. It was announced at the teleconference that based on their latest study the new rates are 1 in 68 children, 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls. While these numbers show the obvious—that the rates have continued to increase over the years—there are some valuable things we can take away from the conference and would like to invite YOU to help us reach more families and help more individuals in our community.
What We Know:
1. That while the study shows that more children are being identified that are White or Caucasian, that the CDC does not believe that this means that there rates are actually fewer among underrepresented populations. Instead it is the belief of the CDC and advocates that the issue is a problem with disseminating information and getting resources and services to families in Hispanic, African-American and less affluent communities.
2. That early screening is key. To that end the CDC has created a new program called Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive. It is a 4 step Program that looks to provide better screening and resources for families who have a child considered at risk or who recently gets a formal diagnosis of Autism. According to the CDC “Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!” is a coordinated federal effort to encourage healthy child development, universal developmental and behavioral screening for children, and support for the families and providers who care for them.” Families can see the 4 step program and get resources at the website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ecd/watch-me-thrive.
3. It was clear from the discussion that most of the effort is being placed almost exclusively on early diagnosis and there was not much said about those who are older and nothing was mentioned about adults on the spectrum.
What We Need Your Help To Do
1. We need to find translators. Our community has identified a need and that is among underrepresented populations who need access to information and resources. That requires outreach and education efforts that are more hands on.
2. We need community leaders in all areas of life to inquire about how they can help the local autism community. Ask for trainings, events that you can participate in, in some way. Find out how you can outreach and help those around you.
Autism IS NOT a childhood disorder. These individuals will one day be an Adult with Autism. Autism affects the entire family and there are needs within that family that needs to be addressed and not ignored or demeaned by our society.
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