I will never forget the encyclopedia, the library aisle and the long, dark table I sat at while I read about autism from a frightening 1950’s perspective. That was twenty years ago when I learned about my son’s diagnosis in the harshest of ways. That 1950’s encyclopedia talked about autism being a “refrigerator mom” syndrome and predicted my son would have to be institutionalized. If there was ever a time of autism un-awareness, it was back in those pre-internet, low-incidence days of autism. We all know what happened soon after, like a crescendo, autism began to rise, getting louder and louder and it hasn’t peaked. It just keeps getting louder and louder. In fact, autism is screaming.
In our advocacy practices today, Attorney Jennifer Laviano and I are so aware of autism, we wish our phones would stop ringing with yet another parent of a child who has autism. It’s the same story over and over again. In fairness to school districts, autism rates have risen dramatically over the last twenty years. We recognize the investment districts must make to rise to the challenge of providing appropriate services. But come on, it’s been twenty years already. While there are some school districts that have made and maintained the investment in appropriate autism services, unfortunately too many have not. And that is why our phones ring off the hook for our advocacy services. We would like the phone calls to stop. We want school districts to provide appropriate programming for students who have autism. Autism Awareness? Yeah, we’re past that.