By Robin Suzelis, Director

Parents of children with autism feel acceptance, and community inclusion is not just something to be highlighted in April but all year long.

Did you know the prevalence rate for Autism diagnoses just increased again? In the US, 1 in 36 children is diagnosed with Autism, and there are more than 5.8 million Autistic adults. Early diagnosis for children before 4 years of age has proven to have a significant impact on their lifelong outcomes, as they are more likely to receive services that support their development through childhood. At this point, it is safe to say most of us know someone with autism.

As a parent and professional advocate, I want this month to be a time when the community comes together and says “How can I help?”

We see how they struggle to learn things that just came naturally to other kids and adults. For my boys, self-care needs are tough, this includes hygiene, dressing, toileting, and so much more. We see how hard they try to communicate and socialize. It’s so hard to watch them struggle with the basics. Both of my boys were completely non-verbal but, with years of therapy, can now speak but are limited. Every phrase needs to be taught to them, and even the simplest phrase like “I need help” or “I’m hungry” is rarely said without prompting. Even now, at 16, I think my eldest still would starve if I didn’t prompt him by asking if he was hungry or ready for his next meal.

This is a struggle shared by many autism families. Everything that parents, teachers, and therapists work so hard to accomplish is about giving individuals more opportunities by teaching them the skills needed to be a part of this community. We want our kids to be happy and feel included in every facet of their life. 

 At the Autism Society, I’m providing support and information every day to parents to help them obtain the resources they need so their children — of every age — have more inclusion opportunities. We offer events and programs year-round for kids, teens, young adults, moms, and dads to create connections for everyone in the family and so that families connect with each other. Knowing we aren’t alone and are facing similar struggles helps us keep forging ahead as Parent Warriors!

We welcome your support. Join us as we work together to create a more accepting world with the resources, support, services, and connections for the Autism community to live fully.