MARESA and Autism Alliance of Michigan talk about autism acceptance

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) — As April comes to an end, so does Autism Awareness Month.

Whether or not you know someone with the disease, it affects many. “According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 44 [children] are autistic,” said Meghan McLeod, education consultant for the Marquette Algiers Regional Educational Services Agency (MARESA).

That’s more than 1.6 million American children with the neurological disease and more than 5.4 million adults according to the CDC. Many of them are unemployed. “About 80 percent of people with autism who become adults are either unemployed or underemployed,” said Joanna Monk-Lofton, outreach manager for the Autism Alliance of Michigan.

The alliance said many employers don’t know how to work with people with autism. That many people affected by the disease also lack soft skills like effective communication and decision-making, which leads to even more problems. “A lot of them live at home with their parents once they leave school,” Monk Lofton said. She continued, “They’re very isolated, they don’t have a lot of friends.”

There is a way to ensure success for people with autism.

“We know that early identification leads to early services that lead to better outcomes,” Monk-Lofton said.

Some symptoms to look for in young children include delayed speech, increased aggression, and resistance to touch. MARESA recommends that a pediatrician examine your child around the age of two if you notice any signs. He adds that he has resources for children and adults with the disease.

“It really depends on the individual, but it could include social supports, maybe independence supports, maybe additional work supports to find the right kind of job or the right kind of life support. ‘university,” McLeod said.

There are neurodiverse people living in your community in Upper Michigan and in communities across the country. Trying to understand them can be the first step towards accepting people with autism and other developmental disabilities for who they are.

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