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State has resources as part of Autism Awareness Month

We all could use more knowledge when it comes to families and individuals dealing with autism.

Now, the state is pointing the public to several online sites with educational information on what autism is and how it affects lives.

Autism spectrum disorder is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, affecting more than 5 million people.

To help Michiganders better understand autism and those who live with it, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Departments of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Education, Health and Human Services and Autism Alliance of Michigan to proclaim April as Autism Awareness Month.

Youth with autism have been identified as the primary emerging population of individuals with a disability in Michigan that are either currently or predicted to be underserved. Symptoms and characteristics of autism may present in a variety of combinations and can result in significant, lifelong challenges in areas of learning, social-interactive behaviors and understanding verbal as well as nonverbal communication.

“It’s critical we all work together to assist individuals with autism and their families through early identification and appropriate supports and services,” said Colleen Allen, Autism Alliance of Michigan president and CEO. “When organizations, state agencies and others work together, we can ensure individuals with autism have all they need to pursue personal happiness, independence and community inclusion.”

It is also important to better support individuals with autism as they look to obtain, maintain and advance in an employment pathway through individualized and customized support, comprehensive training and better advocacy and outreach strategies.

“Our vocational rehabilitation programs are well-equipped to assist individuals with autism in identifying their personal and professional goals and providing them with the right supports and services to help them achieve success,” said LEO s Office of Employment and Training Director Stephanie Beckhorn. “There are so many opportunities for individuals with autism to join or grow Michigan’s workforce, and we want to help them do that.”

Autism Alliance of Michigan, MDE, MDHHS and LEO all have resources and services in place to support individuals with autism, both from diagnostic and supportive perspectives.

Discover the mission and resources of Autism Alliance of Michigan by going online to AutismAllianceOfMichigan.org.

Learn more about how LEO, MDE and MDHHS support individuals with autism by going to LEO’s Employment and Training website, MDE’s Special Education website or Michigan.gov/Autism.

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