According to Autism Delaware, the First State experienced a 546 percent increase in the number of public school children with an educational classification of autism from 1991 to 2010. During the 2012–2013 school year, 19,056 children were enrolled in special education in the state’s public schools and 1,208 of those children were classified with autism or autism spectrum disorders.
In 1995, the prevalence of autism nationally was one in every 2,500 births. Today it is 1 in 88.
So, one might conclude that Autism Delaware’s presence is needed more than ever.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It is a result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain.
“One of the many challenges in providing services is each individual is so unique,” says Teresa Avery, executive director of Autism Delaware. “Their needs and skills are very unique and it’s very challenging to provide appropriate services for individuals across the autism spectrum.”
In 2010, the Lower Delaware Autism Foundation in Sussex County and Autism Delaware (started in 1998) merged. The nonprofit, which operates statewide, has continued to expand and has offices in each county. The group’s services include its Productive Opportunities for Work &
Recreation vocational program, which helps adults with autism find jobs at Delaware businesses.
Along with sharing information and offering speakers and conferences, Autism Delaware provides parent mentoring and support, family and teen social opportunities, and public awareness campaigns and financial assistance for parents and educators to increase their knowledge about autism.
While the organization has added staff over the years, it still depends on many volunteers to staff events, serve as mentors and perform advocacy work. (delautism.org)