Here at Stand for Children we are focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under-tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability. We are excited to show our support of the Autism community during the month of April, Autism Acceptance Month.
1 in 44 children in the US is diagnosed on the spectrum – also known as ASD – and 31% of those with ASD will have a developmental disability. This means many families will face the complexities of supporting a loved one who is neurodiverse in our society.
Stand is committed to advocating in partnership with those on the spectrum and their families. We do this by supporting policies for special education funding, inclusion models, and diversity training for teachers and school staff. We support families and self-advocates to share their stories to promote change in their communities. We are also committed as an organization to learning to be more inclusive in the work we do.
For Stand, this issue is personal. Here’s what a few of our amazing team members have to say.
"My younger brother was diagnosed with autism and developmental delays in 1990. We didn’t know any other families with autistic children, and there was so little known about ASD at that time. My parents spent his childhood years searching for needles in the haystack, grasping for anything that might support his unique needs.
It is so encouraging to see how both understanding and acceptance of autistic people has grown over the past three decades. But we also know there is much more work ahead to ensure that my brother and other autistic people have the support they need to flourish."
"Autism Acceptance month holds a new meaning for our family this year. Last month, our 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with ASD level two. The path to diagnosis and access to services was very delayed for her. She had entered the child welfare system at the age of two. She was an early reader and enjoys reading and music. I felt a sense of shock when our daughter was diagnosed. As I began to research diagnostic patterns for ASD, I found that studies suggest that girls and women with autism are less likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men. Additionally, black children with autism are more than five times more likely to be misdiagnosed with behavior disorders, more likely to receive delayed diagnosis from doctors, and are more likely to be profiled, abused and harassed by police officers who are not trained in disability or sensitivity training. This was a truth for our daughter. She was diagnosed with an anti-social disorder, suspended from elementary school and threatened by the school resource officers. Our daughter is dedicated to increasing acceptance for other BIPOC students with ASD to empower them with the supports they need."
And last but not least, as we close out Autism Acceptance Month, Stand Fellow Devony Audet will also be closing out her time as our Spokane Special Education Fellow. Devony deserves a huge round of applause for the commitment and passion she has brought to this work and to her community.
In her first blog with Stand, here is what Devony wrote about her commitment to this work:
"My son has a lot on his shoulders already with his vast medical needs and he shouldn't have to fight so hard just to get an equitable education. I want to make sure my son and other students like him aren't falling through the cracks due to being differently abled. I want to make as much difference as I can in Special Education. I am doing everything I can in my district but I want to see how far we can make an impact. The sky is the limit. It is a discussion a lot of people are starting to have and we can make a huge impact!"
Devony has dedicated herself to successfully advocating for students who receive special education services, and helping parents learn how to advocate for their own children. A mother of three unique students with different interests, abilities, and needs, one of whose developmental path is affected by autism, Devony has helped many students like her son have a chance to unlock their full potential. We celebrate Devony for all she's done to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism!
How can you promote Autism Acceptance? First, we can all learn something new about autism and how it impacts the lives of those on the spectrum. Here is a link where you can learn more. You can also help advocate with Stand for educational policies that will positively impact those who in our school systems who have ASD. If you are a parent or an individual on the spectrum, you can partner with us to learn how to advocate at the local and state levels. (https://action.stand.org/FI22GpO)
And finally, we can all wear blue in support of Autism Acceptance. We would love you to share your pictures wearing blue with us!