From: The Honorable Eliot L. Engel
Sent By: Heidi.Ross@mail.house.gov
Congressional Staff Briefing
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopment disorder. Individuals with autism may experience difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and demonstrate repetitive or disruptive behaviors. According to the CDC autism affects 1 in 68 American children. Research shows this increase is only partly due to improved diagnosis and awareness. It is estimated that 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States. Additionally it is estimated that over 3 million individuals in the United States have autism. These staggering numbers indicate a crisis we will have to face as these children become adults.
The goal of educating an individual with autism is to prepare the individual for employment and independent living.
When it comes to education, what options does a student with autism spectrum disorder have? It really depends on the severity of the autism spectrum disorder. The biggest factor that almost all children with autism need, no matter what type of school they are in, is a structured learning environment. Students with autism learn at their own pace and must have customized learning plans to help them reach their highest potential. Many times, children with autism undergo one-on-one learning with teachers and paraprofessionals. While families struggling with autism spectrum disorder face a variety of hurdles, one of the greatest and most difficult challenges is finding an appropriate educational program.
According to the NY Times, there are going to be half a million children with autism in the next 10 years who will become adults. Services for adults with autism exist, but unlike school services, they are not mandated, and there are fewer of them. Combined with shrinking government budgets, the challenges are daunting. Educationally appropriate and essentially based programming for students and young adults with autism spectrum disorder is the next pioneering step to ensure a hopeful future for these young lives.
Please invite your health and education legislative staff to attend an informational congressional staff briefing. You will hear from educators, parents and alumni. This is the next conversation on autism you don’t want to miss!
Eliot L. Engel
Member of Congress