Ina never-ending effort to sharpen our knowledge and skills, last week Lisa and Wendy attended the 11th Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health. Session content included Going to Scale in Low Resource Settings, Behavioral Economics, and Understanding and Assessing Adaptations. Yes, the restaurants and sights were excellent – but so was the conference (even though we have no photos to post)!
Kalin Bennett, an 18 year old from Little Rock, Arkansas, is making history as the first person with autism to be signed to a Division 1 university basketball team. While having autism is a part of who Kalin is, he appreciates the fact that Kent State University signed him not to just make history, but because of his natural gift and outstanding ability to play basketball. Kalin looks forward to not only pursuing his dream as a basketball player, but also to use his story to motivate others. “I want to use this platform to inspire other kids with autism and non-autism. I want to let them know, ‘Hey, if I can do this, you can do it, too.’ A lot of times they feel alone and by themselves, and I felt that same way growing up.” Kalin’s success did not come without challenges, and his tenacity and passion for pursuing his dream shines through both on and off the court. To read more about this inspiring success story, click here!
The recently-released report from the National Survey of Children’s Health estimates an autism prevalence rate of 1 in 40 children in the U.S. This survey, which was conducted in 2016, asked parents of 3-17 year olds if their doctor or any other health care provider has ever diagnosed their child with autism, and if so, if their child currently has the condition.
This prevalence rate is higher than that released in the April CDC report, which estimated a prevalence rate of 1 in 59 children. Differences in the way the data were collected may account for this discrepancy in prevalence estimates; the CDC report was based on review of medical and educational records of 8-year-olds in specific regions of the U.S.
Results from the National Survey of Children’s Health also highlight the challenges that parents, families, and people in the autism community face in obtaining treatment and intervention services, noting that access to care is more challenging for families affected by autism compared to other developmental disabilities.
Sesame Street’s first Muppet with autism, Julia, was spotted during this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade wearing noise-cancelling headphones to help control sensory overload! People in the autism community were elated and touched to see this representation, as reflected in viral tweets on social media. One parent wrote, “My autistic daughter saw Julia on the Sesame Street float and said, ‘There’s Julia wearing her headphones because she’s autistic.’ Seeing others like her represented in society is so important for my girl, it makes her feel included and loved.” To read the full The Mighty article, click here: https://themighty.com/2018/11/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-autism-julia-sesame-street-noise-canceling-headphones/
Since 2015, Sesame Street has made it a priority to promote understanding of autism as they launched their online initiative “Sesame Street and Autism: Seeing Amazing in All Children” featuring Julia in a storybook called “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3.” Check out Sesame Street’s online Julia-related materials here: http://autism.sesamestreet.org/
Just a reminder that representation matters and even small gestures, such as putting on headphones, can make a huge impact.
Last week Wendy traveled to British Columbia, Canada, to learn about barriers to autism services for First Nations and to provide STAT training for early childhood providers in the Squamish and Nlaka’pamux Nations. This project was spearheaded by Grace Iarocci, professor at Simon Fraser University, Romona Baxter, executive director of Nzen’man Child and Family Development Centre and Rona Sterling-Collins, Consultant, who obtained provincial and federal government grants to conduct this work. Wendy was joined by Courtney Burnette, PhD, a STAT Trainer and Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico. They met remarkable family members and service providers, and saw amazing landscapes as they traveled the province from West Vancouver, to Merritt, to Lytton. We extend our special thanks to the staff in the Ayas Men Men Child and Family Services Centre in West Vancouver and the Nzen’man Child and Family Development Centre in Lytton for hosting the STAT training workshops. It was a true honor and humbling experience to be welcomed so warmly by those with whom we share this earth.