Autism awareness receives increased media attention in April

Autism Awareness Month kicked off Saturday, April 2, with World Autism Awareness Day. You’re going to be reading a lot about autism this month — for the first time it seems like media is really paying attention to autism and planning expanded coverage to coincide with the awareness campaign (popularized and sponsored by Autism Speaks).

I’ll be tweeting links as I find them (follow me @rpnorton).  In the meantime, here are a few to start you off:

  • Living With Autism – Parade Magazine, April 3, 2011:  Two decades ago, parents, schools and clinicians began to notice that they were seeing many more young children diagnosed with autism and related disorders. Those children are now about to “age out” of the educational system, and face an uncertain future — there is a dearth of housing, employment and recreational programs to serve them and help them live independent and productive lives. Scary but worthwhile reading for parents of younger children.
  • Best Places to Live for People With Autism – Fox News, April 1, 2011:  OK, yeah, Fox News, but the story is based on an (unscientific)  poll Autism Speaks did on cities with the best services and living environments for kids and adults on the spectrum. Interesting – L.A. made the list in California; generally California was ranked low for its services, a fact that will come as a surprise to no one who has attempted to navigate our Regional Centers and school districts.
  • Pressing Employers for Autism Coverage, Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2011:  Posted prior to Autism Awareness Month, this account is nonetheless an interesting update on what is happening in the fight to make health insurers cover more autism treatment. I’m intensely interested in this issue as 1)getting insurers to pay their fair share of autism treatment would lift some of the burden from school districts (currently behavioral treatment and even medically-based therapies like speech and occupational therapy are often ruled “educational” by insurers, thereby leaving the educational system as the payer of last resort for autism); and 2)I have recently started doing some consulting work for a company that advocates on behalf of providers and individuals for insurers to help pay for treatment. My personal view is that the cost of autism treatment should be equally shared between the special education system and the medical system, but we’re not there yet.

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