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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Light It Up Blue for Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and to show our support, we’re participating in Autism Speaks’ ‘Light It Up Blue’ campaign — illuminating Government House bright blue every night in Annapolis to raise awareness of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

While many families celebrate the natural milestones of a child’s development with ease, from first steps to a first job, a growing number of families today face a challenge that we’ve only just begun to understand. Currently, physicians and specialists can evaluate behavior to arrive at a diagnosis of ASD, but doctors have yet to develop a definitive test to detect the disorder in early childhood. Right here in Maryland, ASD affects thousands of families, with one in sixty-eight children diagnosed.

But today, millions across the country, and leaders across our state are working to support these families, increasing awareness and raising money for research. While many parents and families may find the diagnosis process confusing and distressing, we have resources to help.
In 2009, Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed a Commission on Autism, bringing together a broad coalition of adults with ASD, parents, legislators, government agencies, non-profits, health providers and insurers to address the growing prevalence of ASD, and to create a cohesive community of care.

With smart interagency collaborations, and as one of only a few states to offer an Autism Waiver for Medicaid services, Maryland has become a national leader in medical care cost-reduction and ASD support. Under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, the Maryland State Department of Education now works in partnership with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to coordinate services, reduce costs, and increase home and community living.

And because of our promising work on this issue, Maryland recently won a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to help improve the identification and care of children with autism spectrum disorders. The funding will increase early detection, improve care, and increase public awareness of special needs.

Our work continues every day to build a stronger Maryland with a stronger communities of care for our families. Together, we can ensure that all our children will grow up with the same opportunities to succeed and thrive in our great state.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While, I'm not opposed, aren't there an awful lot of autism awareness months?