Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects in varying degrees an individuals ability to communicate and interact with others.
- There is no known single cause or cure for autism, but increased awareness and funding can make a difference (Autism Society of America, 2010).
- Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but it is four times more likely to occur in boys than girls. The Centers for Disease Control (2010) reported that 1 in 110 individuals in the United States have autism; also, an estimated 39,216 Kentuckians are affected by autism. The cost to the individual, family and society is steadily increasing.
- Only 19 percent of parents who have children with autism believe their children's education will adequately prepare them for life compared to 56 percent of typical parents (Easter Seals, 2008).
- 39 percent of individuals with ASD never received a phone call from or met with a friend on their own in the last 12 months (NLTS2, Shattuck, 2009)
- 79 percent of children with autism are more likely to live at home beyond age 18 (Easter Seals, 2008).
- If an adult is not employed at the end of their educational training, there is a 70percent chance of not being employed through his or her life (Rebuck, 2006).
- Only six percent of individuals with ASD have full-time employment (Barnard et al, 2001).
- Approximately $3.2M is spent on each individual with autism over their lifetime (Ganz, 2007).
But there is hope. With appropriate services and supports from early intervention through school, individuals with autism can be contributing members of society. Individualized therapy is one piece of this complex puzzle, but we also need to invest in the systems that support individuals and their families. Intensive training for professionals in the fields of education, mental health, medicine and vocational rehabilitation is an investment that will yield high returns for families and individuals with autism
The first step in solving this complex puzzle was taken in 1996 when a group of parents obtained support from the Kentucky General Assembly to create the Kentucky Autism Training Center (KATC). This group has evolved into a supportive advisory board that advocates for all citizens in Kentucky affected by autism.
The mission of the KATC is to strengthen our state's systems of support for persons affected by autism by bridging the research to practice gap and by providing training and resources to families and professionals. The KATC has three strategic goals:
1) Build capacity in the education system for implementing evidence-based practices for a student with autism. Partner with Kentucky Department of Education to:
- establish regional and local autism teams to address student/classroom specific issues and provide local professional development.
- establish model educational programs in 11 regions of Kentucky to support regional professional development and train of university students.
2) Collaborate with constituents to develop a service model that helps families, individuals, practitioners in mental health and intellectual disabilities, early childhood and employment to design, deliver and evaluate services for persons with autism.
- Inform, empower and network families
- Promote self-advocacy for individuals
- Educate and link professionals and families
3) Measure, evaluate and communicate outcomes of services provided to individuals with autism
To support these goals, the KATC provides information and training to families and professionals across Kentucky. (e.g. website, service directory, lending library, family guide, listserv, regional workshops). Over the past ten years, the KATC has served as a clearinghouse for information that is evidence-based, yet practical.
Unfortunately, the KATC funding has not kept pace with the ever-increasing number of individuals affected by autism. The KATC seeks operational funds to support additional field-based staff, family based workshops and printing costs.
That's why we are asking you to make a gift to KATC. Please take a moment right now to visit the University of Louisville Giving page. Please be sure to identify "other" and type "Kentucky Autism Training Center."