The Norm – AGE OF AUTISM
By Anne Dachel
For a very long time now I’ve been posting stories from Britain on my site Loss of Brain Trust about how they’re continually building special schools and adding autism classrooms to mainstream schools everywhere while telling us about the increase in kids with complex needs and how ‘delighted’ and ‘excited’ everyone feels about it.
I haven’t seen that happening in the U.S. and for a while I wondered about that, but what I discovered is the American alternative: autism therapy centers.
It didn’t take long to see that these places are popping up across the country, and I’m going to strike a balance between news reports from the U.S. and those from the U.K.
In America they’re just as excited about more kids with autism and the coverage shows it.
Paducah, KY: Feb 26, 2022, Paducah Sun: Easterseals announces plans to build autism
Easterseals West Kentucky announced Friday that it would open an autism center in Paducah sometime this fall.
It seems Kentucky now requires insurers to provide autism therapy to residents and that makes it a ‘sustainable program.’
Carroll said that since insurance companies now have to cover that therapy, there is a funding stream available for the Paducah program….
Sarah Smith, a board-certified behavior analyst, is Easterseals’ vice president for autism services. “An ABA center is something that western Kentucky has needed for a long time,” she said. “As the rates of autism continue to increase, this is going to provide opportunities for families to get the services they need.”…
“It’s full-day services that we’ll be able to offer, including meals,” he said. “So, it’s a way that the families who have a child in the spectrum can lead full lives and know that their kids will be taken care of.
Here’s what the doctor associated with the clinic had to say:
Dr. John Cecil, the medical director for Easterseals West Kentucky and a pediatrician, has been anticipating an autism center in Paducah for 40 years. “When I started 40 years ago, 1 in 1,500 children had autism, so it was not very common,” he said. “Now, it’s 1 in 68, so we need help for those kids.
“These ABA therapies are the only thing we’ve seen that can make a difference. Medications are not the answer, but the therapy has made a difference.” Cecil said it would take about a year to make an appointment to see an autism specialist in Louisville or at Vanderbilt in Nashville….
“The most important thing: What do you do with the children after they’ve gotten the diagnosis? You’ve got to have somewhere to help with that, so this is the answer.”…
Too bad this “specialist” doesn’t know the rate of one in 68 is from 2014. The latest stat is a hefty one in 44 kids as of December 2021 with a lot worse numbers in individual states around the U.S. If ‘the only thing we’ve seen that can make a difference’ is ABA, according to Dr. Cecil, we’re in big trouble.
Plymouth, MN: Feb 25, 2022, KSTP, Minneapolis: Sensory inclusion room now open at Plymouth community center
The City of Plymouth has a new space for people with sensory needs. There is a new room at the community center aimed at giving those folks a quiet place to go but still get out of the house.
Equipped with things like noise-canceling headphones, art installations and even different lighting, it’s now the first community center in the country to have a sensory room certified by the national nonprofit Kulture City — which specializes in sensory needs and accessibility….
Paul Pearson is the Recreation Supervisor with the City of Plymouth. He says by working with Kulture City, he found out one in six people have a sensory need like autism, PTSD or dementia.
“We are very proud and we hope it leads to more sensory rooms and more inclusion,” Pearson said.
One local nonprofit that specializes in autism awareness is thrilled to see this sensory room open, and they say it’s important for this to become the norm.
Sad to yes, this is “the norm” and it’s only going to get worse.
Autism is specifically talked about.
“These accommodations are incredibly important to a huge part to our local community,” said Ellie Wilson, Executive Director with the Autism Society of Minnesota.
Ellie Wilson is the Executive Director of the Autism Society of Minnesota and she says invisible disabilities are more common than people think.
According to a recent Centers for Disease Control study, one in 36 people in Minnesota qualify for an autism diagnosis….
Of course the one in 36 autism rate isn’t really based on “people.” It’s the rate among 8 year olds, but we just pretend we’re all in this together.
Pflugerville, TX: Feb 25, 2022, (TX) CommunityImpact.com: New restaurants, boutiques and clinics: 10 businesses now open or coming soon to Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto
In a community events update was the following item #4:
A new Behavioral Innovations clinic opened Feb. 1 at 701 FM 685, Ste. 420, Pflugerville. The autism treatment center uses applied behavior analysis to work with children on the autism spectrum to teach new skills, improve performance in already acquired skills, and decrease unwanted and challenging behaviors. …
Millersville, MD: Feb 25, 2022, Odenton-Severn, MD Patch: Verbal Beginnings Opens Autism Center In Millersville
A new autism center opened in Millersville. The facility will help children develop social skills and prepare for school….
“We are so excited to be helping even more kids in the Anne Arundel County region.”…
This is the third Verbal Beginnings location. The other two sites are in Columbia.
Dartmouth, MA: Feb 24, 2022, Dartmouth (MA) Week: Pacheco Autism Center brings special needs daycare to Dartmouth
Dartmouth families of children with autism and other special needs now have a new resource for childcare. The Pacheco Autism Center, located at 703 State Road North in Dartmouth, opened for the first time this week and will now begin offering one-on-one applied behavioral analysis and special needs daycare services from licensed therapists.
“A lot of people go to work and they’ve tried daycares but they just can’t handle their kids,” said owner Steve Pacheco….
Though the center just opened its doors, Pacheco said that he already has eight kids signed up — and about 60 more waitlisted….
But with so many kids on the waitlist, Pacheco said he is already thinking about expanding the business to new facilities. “There’s a lot more of a need than I thought,” he said….
San Antonio, TX: Feb 24, 2022, PRNews: (San Antonio) Little Spurs Autism Center Now Open
ABA therapy center, Little Spurs Autism Centers, opened the doors of its first location on February 15th. Now providing ABA therapy to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the center can see children from 0-21 years old….
Costs for assessments and treatment are covered by most major health insurance plans. The Autism Center staff will help determine insurance eligibility and coverage….
“We are so excited to welcome clients to our center,” Powell said,…
“According to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, ASD now affects 1 in every 44 children born in this U.S. and 10 years ago the rate was 1 in every 88 children.”
Of course there’s no explanation for the big jump in the rate. No one really cares; we’re so used to the numbers always going up.
Britain continues its downward trajectory, again, no one really knows or cares why it never stops.
Redbridge: They’re looking to expand autism services.
“We are working with local schools to ensure that needs are met more immediately. For example, in November 2021, Cabinet agreed to plans to expand Newbridge Special School by a further 21 places and for an autistic spectrum disorder additionally resourced provision to be opened at Caterham High School for 28 additional pupils.”
Redbridge is under pressure to create extra spaces for children with special needs, with corporate director of appeal Adrian Loades stating that the borough’s capacity was “full” in 2020.
Also from Redbridge: Parents of children with special needs in Redbridge should not have to “fight the system” to get the right support, a government minister has said.
During a visit to the borough on February 21, minister for children and families Will Quince MP said he wanted to see more money “downstream,” to get children support earlier….
He said more money should be invested in getting parents help earlier on, to avoid council’s having to pay more later….
A national review of SEND policies is due to be released three years after it was first announced, a wait that Mr Quince has admitted is “too long”.
According to a draft of the council’s SEND strategy for the next three years, there is a higher than average need for speech and language therapy and level of children with learning difficulties in the borough….
Warrington: WARRINGTON North MP Charlotte Nichols and the Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Sarah Hall, have written to the Education Secretary ahead of the publication of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Review, calling for a better deal for SEND children. …
Cllr. Hall added: “Even before Covid, increased demand for high-cost specialist placements, the block on local authorities being able to build schools, shortages of SEN teachers, educational psychologists, occupational therapists, and specialist mental health provision – along with an overall increase in demand, acuity and insufficient funding – were creating the perfect storm. This must be addressed now.”
Kent: Special needs pupils attending a Sevenoaks school may have to travel to another Kent borough for their studies.
Kent County Council (KCC) has unveiled £938,000 [$1.3M] plans to relocate from a nursery at Milestone Academy in New Ash Green to Cherry Orchard Primary Academy in Ebbsfleet Valley near Dartford. …
Ian Watts, KCC’s north Kent’s area education officer, has revealed a need to provide “cost-effective” solutions amid a rising demand for special school places this decade. …
If no further action is taken, KCC says it will be “extremely difficult” to provide sufficient special school places in the northern part of Kent….
Gloucester: Shire Hall chiefs have approved ambitious plans to recommission support centres for vulnerable children and families across Gloucestershire. Family hubs are centres which ensure families with children and young people aged up to 19 (or up to 25 years for children with special needs or disabilities) receive early help to overcome a range of difficulties and build stronger relationships….
It will address the needs of families with the youngest children and subsequent stages will cover progressively older children and their families. The maximum value of the contract over nine years is just under £34.5 million [$47M].
Edinburgh: The newly completed St Crispin’s [special] School will open to pupils on Wednesday just after the half term holiday. …
Headteacher Rhoda MacDougall told The Edinburgh Reporter everyone is looking forward to the adventure, now that most of the boxes have been unpacked.
The new £12 million [$16M] school has been designed by The City of Edinburgh Council completely in house from the overall architectural design by the council’s in house architect to the interior design under the watchful and creative eye of Lesley McMillan. …
Signage is important at St Crispin’s as children with autism learn to exchange single pictures for the item or activity they want….
“Our children have severe and complex additional support needs and the majority of our young people are on the autistic spectrum as well.
Peterborough: Work starts on £6.8m [$9.2M] expansion of Peterborough special school…
The work at Heltwate School – which is a mixed, special school catering for pupils aged 5 to 19 with moderate to severe learning difficulties and additional medical needs – will see a range of facilities improved, and more space created. …
As part of the adopted SEND strategy, special schools are increasingly being asked to provide places for children with more complex needs….
Cllr Lynne Ayres, Peterborough City Council cabinet member for children’s services, education, skills and the university, said: “I am delighted that work on the programme of essential improvements at Heltwate School has started.
The need for special school places in Peterborough is constantly increasing and it is our duty to provide appropriate and imaginative accommodation to enable these young people to thrive.”
Wales: PROPOSALS are being drawn up for new facilities at Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn in Denbigh, which caters for pupils with Autism Spectrum Condition from the ages of 3-19.
The proposals could be part of the next wave of school investment projects through the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, previously the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme….
I’m delighted to see work on our next phase of new school builds begin.
Sheffield: A new school for children with autism is set to open with a state of the art building in Sheffield later this year.
Nexus Multi Academy Trust – which has 11 academies across South Yorkshire – will run the school for Sheffield children aged seven to 16 diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder and related social, emotional and mental health needs….
The school will start with 60 pupils on its roll in September and aims to accommodate around 80 pupils within the next couple of years.
£400,000 [$543K] will create an additional Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) unit at a school, allowing parents more choice to choose a school closer to home and family….
Isle of Man: More teachers and support staff will be hired to support Isle of Man students with special education needs, the education minister has said.
About £2.7m [$3.7M] has been set aside in the latest government budget to increase specialist help available in schools.
Worcester: A CITY school’s plan to build new classrooms for children with autism looks set to be backed by the council next week.
The proposal would see new a new detached, single-storey teaching facility built at Christopher Whitehead Language College in Bromwich Road specifically designed for pupils with autism….
The autism spokespeople in Minnesota are right about ONE THING: all this is now THE NORM.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.