Over the month of April, which is recognized as National Autism Awareness Month, there were many local events to help the families in our community both share information and raise funds for individuals in the autism spectrum. Just last week I participated in a walk at Memorial High School hosted by Inspiring Autism Spectrum Families (IASF) where I met many people wanting to contribute to their cause.
It was recently released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that autism now affects approximately one in 88 children in the United States. That is a much higher estimate than even a year ago when the CDC estimated one in 110 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism. There are many families in Indiana that are affected by autism and improving awareness of their needs is an important cause.
Inspiring Autism Spectrum Families is one of the fantastic local organizations that partners with providers who offer free or reduced pricing for treatments and care of children on the autism spectrum. They have also created autism awareness programs that their volunteers host in schools, places of worship, and the community to help people better understand the differences and behaviors of kids on the autism spectrum.
Additionally, IASF offers a Community Outreach program that offers parent support and resource groups in partnership with other area organizations. All children on the autism spectrum, up to the age of 18, who live in Posey, Vanderburgh, Gibson, Warrick, Spencer or Pike Counties in Indiana, or in Daviess or Henderson Counties in Kentucky, are eligible for IASF’s assistance. More information, including how to contact them, can be found on their website: www.iasf4u.org.
My colleagues and I in the General Assembly recognize that Hoosiers affected by autism sometimes need special considerations. We’ve worked to help multiple state entities, including emergency and school personnel, to be trained with these considerations in mind.
We have passed legislation requiring all firefighters, law enforcement personnel (including those stationed in schools) and EMS personnel to be trained on autism and how to better interact with individuals with autism. These required education and training sessions help ensure that those Hoosier children and adults receive the best care possible in our education system and when an emergency strikes.
I’m very happy I was able to participate in multiple local events supporting autism awareness. I look forward to the continued growth and support of organizations like IASF here in southern Indiana.