Dear Friends and Colleagues:
April is Autism Awareness Month and today, April 2, is World Autism Day. Today and throughout the month, we’ll be joining people and organizations across the state and across the world in promoting awareness and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
One quote related to autism that we often see is “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” This quote speaks to the very heart of what autism is – a “spectrum” disorder that affects each person differently and to a unique degree.
We know this well at the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) as we proudly support more than 36,000 New Yorkers with autism. Each one of the individuals we support has unique needs, preferences, abilities and life goals. As we look to the future, we are aware that the number of people with ASD we support is expected to grow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children are now identified with ASD. It is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.
OPWDD’s participation in the Autism Spectrum Advisory Board initiated by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, our continued system-wide improvements, and our outreach to promote community inclusion and acceptance of people with all disabilities including those with ASD, will help us to ensure that we can continue to meet the unique needs and goals of every person we support.
Today on World Autism Awareness Day and throughout the month you can join Autism Speaks in promoting the international Light It Up Blue Campaign. Share a post about ASD, change your profile frame or post a photo or sentence about how you are lighting it up blue (don’t forget to tag your post with #LightItUpBlue and #NYSOPWDD). In your everyday lives, make it a point to get to know people with developmental disabilities, including those with ASD.
I hope that each of you reading this will join me this month and all year long in working to increase understanding and acceptance of all people with ASD.
Kerry A. Delaney