Lila Barry, President, Autism Society New Brunswick
October is Autism Awareness month in Canada. Since last October the Centre for Disease Control in the United States has changed its estimates of autism prevalence. The CDC had previously estimated that 1 in 166 persons has some form of autism disorder. In February 2007, they released a new estimate of 1 in 150. In the United Kingdom, the generally accepted estimate is 1 in 100. There is much debate over to what extent the increasingly larger estimates of the total numbers of persons with autism reflects actual increases or changes in diagnostic criteria combined with greater public awareness.
The fact remains that most places, including New Brunswick, are in dire need of autism-specific services. Autism is not just a different personality type. It is a recognized neurological disorder with communication, behavior and social impairments varying in severity.
Some great strides have been made in New Brunswick over the past eight years in funding of pre-school interventions by properly trained autism support workers. Teacher aides are also being trained as autism support workers to assist autistic children in the school system. The departments of education, health and family services all deserve credit for making these changes, as does our political leadership before and after the last election.
The UNB-CEL is a great resource for the autism community in New Brunswick in ensuring a supply of properly trained autism support workers. Parents and family members have been at the forefront of change and the Autism Society New Brunswick has been an effective organizational vehicle for directing and moving change in the right direction, with a focus on improving the lives of autistic children and adults.
The Autism Society annual general meeting will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Fredericton on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 1-4. The subject of the meeting will be youth and adult residential care and treatment. Everyone with an interest in autism, including autistic persons, family members, professionals and government are invited to attend. There is no admission fee except one: your concern for autistic persons in New Brunswick.
Lila Barry, President
Autism Society New Brunswick