Autism Awareness Month
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
For nearly a quarter century, April has been Autism Awareness month throughout the nation – a time to not only promote awareness, but acceptance, recognition and inclusion of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate the tens of thousands of New Yorkers diagnosed with an ASD, their unique gifts, achievements great and small, and the contributions and value they bring to communities all across our great state.
Put simply, people with ASD process information differently than other people do. As the term “Autism Spectrum” implies, each person is affected in a number of different ways and to varying degrees.
The diverse challenges faced by people with an ASD illustrate the wide ranging experiences of the entire community of people served by OPWDD. Like the ASD community, the people we serve have a broad range of abilities and a wide variety of gifts and life goals.
As many of you know, promoting and achieving a truly person-centered system of services and supports for people with developmental disabilities – including people with ASD – has been one of my top priorities. Our goal is a system that accommodates and respects people’s unique abilities and preferences and empowers them to live, work and participate in their community.
At OPWDD we are working every day to ensure that New Yorkers with ASD or other developmental disabilities get the right support, in the right place, at the right time. We’re also working to unravel the mysteries of ASD; leveraging science and study to understand Autism at the genetic level. Our colleagues at the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR) are pioneering solutions for early detection – solutions that will enable earlier access to supports and services in order to produce even better outcomes.
I hope that you will join me this month in recognizing the endless possibilities for individuals with ASD.
Kerry A. Delaney