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Autism Awareness in Florida: Together Can be Better

PHOTO: Itís Autism Awareness Month and one message being spread about the disorder is the importance of the inclusion of individuals with autism in the classroom, workplace and community.  Photo courtesy of the Autism Society of Ohio.
PHOTO: Itís Autism Awareness Month and one message being spread about the disorder is the importance of the inclusion of individuals with autism in the classroom, workplace and community. Photo courtesy of the Autism Society of Ohio.
April 26, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A continued rise in the autism diagnosis rate indicates a growing need for autism awareness.

In the past, the approach was to educate children with autism in their own classrooms with other special needs students.

But advocates say the concept of inclusion or mainstreaming can be much more effective.

Laurie Cramer, director of the Akron, Ohio office of the Autism Society, says by working side-by-side with their peers of all abilities, it can be easier for individuals with autism to learn the skills they'll need to be part of society.

"Problem-solving, working together as a group, modeling their peers and what they're doing, language development,” she says. “And with that, here they are, around and immersed with their peers who can help them tackle many of the inherent things that come with autism."

Cramer says inclusion encourages friendships and may lead to greater acceptance in school and the community. She says other children may benefit as well, by learning about differences among people and opportunities to assist others.

April is Autism Awareness Month.

Cramer says inclusion is not only an important concept in schools, but in other facets of life, including workplaces, housing and health care facilities.

She encourages all people to reflect on how they can help people affected by autism in their own communities.

"Thinking, 'What can I personally change to be more inclusive of families who are living with autism,’” she says, “’or another student in my classroom who has autism? How can I be a friend to them? How can I better support them?'"

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism now affects one in 50 individuals.





Cramer is at 614-487-4726. More information about autism is available at http://www.autism-society.org/



Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL