Message from Autism Society President/CEO: May Autism Matters
May brings the end of April and National Autism Awareness Month and many students with autism (and their families!) looking forward to the end of the school year. For some, this will mean graduation and to each person graduating, I congratulate them! Whether graduating from a high school or college, graduation typically indicates the receipt of a diploma signifying an individual has met the requirements for advancement and education attainment at their respective school.
Unfortunately, many students with autism will age out of the public school system this year at the age of 21 without a regular high school degree, resulting too often in life-long difficulties obtaining employment or moving into post-secondary education options. Many with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who do graduate or age out will enter adulthood with little chance of securing meaningful employment related to their career needs. With an 80% unemployment rate for adults with disabilities and too many students exiting from public schools without viable transition to adulthood living, the month of May means to far too many individuals and families face unnecessary and difficult challenges and stress.
Fortunately, the Autism Society is there to help those individuals and families as well as those who do obtain a degree and are seeking work or postsecondary education opportunities. Through our work with Congress and the Administration we are advocating for the re-authorization of the Combating Autism Act to include significantly increased attention to transition and adult services that leads to integrated employment and economic security. The Autism Society works with national employers by engaging them to deepen their commitments to recruiting, retaining and promoting employees with ASD. We are advocating for effective job training programs and needed community supports so adults with autism can and will have the highest quality of life and we are continuing to answer calls for help, guidance and support each day through AutismSource, the national contact center for autism.
As you look to build your summer plans, consider attending our 45th Annual Autism Society National Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana! It is the nation’s best and most well attended autism conference where individuals, families and professionals join together to connect and learn, as well as celebrate their work and efforts. We’re in an exciting city to boot. To learn more about the conference and to register visit us at www.autism-society.org
Scott Badesch, President/CEO