With Support, Young People Can Be ‘Autistic and Awesome’

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    Autism is something we all need to respect – children, families, government, schools and employers will increasingly find autism to be a day-to-day reality. However, while autism is for life, it does not have to get in the way of life.
    Approximately 15,000 children in Michigan are living with autism spectrum disorder. Nationally, the rate is at least 1 in 88 children, although some research suggests as many as 1 in 50 are on the spectrum.
    With such a dramatic rise in known cases, America needs to get better at understanding, diagnosing and treating autism. Significant improvements are being made. The recently published Michigan Autism Spectrum Disorders State Plan is a major leap forward in making sure children and families can access the support they need.
    At Starr Commonwealth, we’ve been supporting children with autism and other neurological differences for over 13 years. We operate Montcalm, Michigan’s only therapeutic boarding school, which treats children from across the U.S., many of whom are on the spectrum.
    Our approach is to provide a positive, strength-based environment for children, where they can find their own path, developing academically and socially, with all the professional help they might need being made available.
    We also provide in-home care for children and adults living with developmental disabilities, including autism. Our PsychSystems program is one of Michigan’s leading in-home care providers for people with developmental disabilities and can offer services tailored to an individual or family’s needs.
    The approach at Starr is about being person-centered, recognizing that everyone has different needs. With autism, each case is unique, and that’s our starting point. We always see the person before the condition.
    As our understanding of autism improves, society will find new and better ways to ensure that anyone living with autism can be happy, healthy and awesome. Michigan is making significant progress in this important area and we look forward to working with partners to maintain the momentum.
    Find out more at starr.org/autism
    Editor’s Note: Chuck Jackson, MA, is executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Starr Commonwealth. He is also executive director of StarrVista, a care management organization in Wayne County.

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