Sunday, April 2, 2023 marks World Autism Day – and April is Autism Awareness Month.
Having recently opened our doors to The Anderson Center Clinic and Anderson Early Learning Academy at 7 Century Hill Drive in Latham, we want to remind you that it is our mission to “optimize the quality of life for individuals with autism” – not just in the Capital District, but throughout the Hudson Valley and in all corners of the globe.
So what exactly does it mean to “optimize the quality of life for individuals with autism?”
For countless families, it means putting compassion into action 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – advocating for their loved ones, pursuing services, implementing strategies to unlock potential, dealing with sleep deprivation, communicating with providers, managing work responsibilities in the context of needs, and so much more.
For the 1 in 36 diagnosed with this neurological disorder, it means having the courage to navigate a world that can feel overwhelming to process – and for many, to do so without the ability to vocalize wants and needs. It means persevering through challenges and tapping into a spirit of determination when working with the educators, therapists, and professionals who are trying to teach much-needed skills. It means taking opportunities to experience the same sense of belonging that every human deserves to have in life.
For human services professionals everywhere, especially at Anderson, it means taking time to engage in ongoing training on evidence-based practices. It means maintaining a steadfast commitment to the people with autism we serve and their families, no matter what else is happening in our lives. It means fighting for proper funding when there is disparity in pay for direct support professionals and lobbying for legislation that protects the rights of people with special needs. It means helping to lead a movement, ever mindful that our cause knows no boundaries. And it means doing all we can to help build a strong workforce, a culture of inclusivity, and a circle of support that will sustain all who are impacted by autism.
And for all of us at Anderson Center for Autism, it means supporting everyone involved in all of the above, and leading the way wherever possible, steadfastly devoted to our mission – every step of the way.
To that end, we must continue to expand awareness and embrace acceptance, and we ask that all of you do the same – on World Autism Day and all year long.
People with autism – and their loved ones – are counting on it.
Patrick Paul is the CEO/Executive Director of Anderson Center for Autism. Visit andersoncenterforautism.org to learn more about the organization. And to better understand programs and services available specifically to the Capital Region, visit acacapitalregion.org