WXXI AM News

Autism advocates hope to foster awareness and acceptance

Apr 2, 2018

April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month. A local advocate says most people are aware of the condition, with one in 68 children getting the diagnosis.

But Rachel Rosner, director of education for AutismUp, says there's still room for improvement on the acceptance part.

Credit AutismUp.org

Rosner hopes people can move closer to understanding and respecting the rights of those on the autism spectrum to live and thrive in their communities.

"Sometimes you think you know what's going on with a person you see with their child walking down the street or maybe in the aisle of the grocery store.  You might not know, so rather than passing judgment on something that you don't know about, we just want people to be open to the possibility that everyone is doing the best they can."

As part of Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, Autism Up is offering a series of events and activities.

They include a free, four-day training program to help parents and caregivers understand disability rights and special education laws and regulations.  The hope is that parents who take part in the training will then mentor other parents.

Rosner says there is much more support for families today than there was two decades ago.

"When my first child was diagnosed with autism about 18 years ago, I didn't know anyone who had a diagnosis of a child with autism."

AutismUp now has a private Facebook group with 856 local parents as members, and Rosner says new families are welcomed into the community every day.

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.