“Today is World Autism Day, which gives us an opportunity to raise awareness of Autism. We're wearing blue as part of the effort to ‘Light It Up Blue.’ People need to know that autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the U.S.
Each year, one in 68 children and one in every 42 boys will be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This is a 30 percent increase from just two years ago.
We’ve learned a tremendous amount about the importance of early detection in just the last 10 years, but less so on the kinds of high quality intervention methods that will help these children succeed.
We do know that children with autism do NOT need to be segregated in their own classrooms.
I had the privilege last year to tour Barcroft Elementary in Arlington, where students with and without autism learned side by side, mastering new vocabulary and working on math problems together.
At Barcroft, all staff members receive innovative training on methods to teach students with ASD. This approach should be a model for the rest of the country.
To help promote this model of learning, I introduced the AUTISM Educators Act last year to establish pilot programs across the country based on the Barcroft model.
The bill would link school systems with universities and non-profits to help train general education teachers working with children diagnosed on the spectrum.
All children face obstacles in their educational development, but with the dramatically growing prevalence of ASD, we need to be better prepared to overcome the additional barriers these children face.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to secure this legislative victory for children with ASD, to give every child an equal opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in life.”
The range of developmental disabilities that make up Autism Spectrum Disorder can lead to significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. In response to this dramatically increasing global health crisis, the United Nations has recognized April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day since 2007 to promote the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention.
More information on autism and the Light It Up Blue campaign can be found at www.AutismSpeaks.org.
For information on Barcroft Elementary and its teaching model, visit www.apsva.us/barcroft.