1 in 59 individuals in the United States is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Chances are, you already know of someone who is autistic.
Truly supporting a person starts with understanding the individual first. Just as we create any relationship in our lives, it is important to build rapport when getting to know about any individual diagnosed with autism. Knowing the person first creates an alignment of trust as well as a willingness for both you and the individual to embark on a relationship.
Once the relationship is established, it’s important that your next step is understanding how autism specifically impacts the individual. Being that autism is a spectrum disorder, it affects each individual differently from mild autism, previously referred to as Asperger Syndrome, to severe autism that might severely compromise the individual’s ability to engage successfully in the world around them.
So how can you support autism locally in our community? A great way to understand autism is to become involved in organizations that support individuals with autism. Whether there is a camp looking for volunteers, the Special Olympics, or a non-profit such as the Dennis J. Sanders III Autism Foundation, getting involved means you are surrounding yourself with people that can be great teachers and can enrich your understanding of autism spectrum disorders.
The Dennis J. Sanders III Autism Foundation sees the need to provide opportunities for individuals with autism to be included in their community. Inclusive employment opportunities will be provided to support and empower individuals with autism and developmental disabilities. Currently in development is a coffee shop/bookstore/café called Good Company, located in Wichita, Kansas. With a goal of inclusive employment, the greater goal is to promote the idea that individuals with autism and developmental disabilities can be solid employees in their community.
Supporting the idea that individuals with autism have the ability and potential to work effectively alongside others in a workplace goes a long way to changing attitudes regarding an individual’s capabilities. Too often they seem to be separated from the workforce. Let’s integrate and work together to include them instead. Get involved with us, subscribe to stay informed, and let’s continue to strengthen our growing Wichita community!