State Rep. Cara Christine Pavalock (R-77) Thursday joined fellow legislators of the General Assembly in celebrating Autism Awareness Day at the State Capitol.
Legislators, parents and individuals affected by autism all took part in the celebration to raise awareness, provide support and promote acceptance.
“It is important that parents and caregivers continue to be the voice for their loved ones with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD),” said Rep. Pavalock, a member of the legislature’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) Caucus. “Advocacy events such as these are so important; not only do they allow for raising awareness but they also are essential for those who need access to necessary resources. We must continue the conversation with key stakeholders, caregivers, and members of the public about the importance of working together and moving forward as a community to ensure that those in need of assistance and support do not go without.”
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that affects the individual’s ability to communicate and relate to others. The symptoms an individual may exhibit may range from mild to severe. This range is referred to as the autism spectrum. Individuals exhibiting symptoms are diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, which covers not only autism, but Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released staggering estimates that 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds) in the United States has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children (11.3 per 1,000 8-year olds).
This alarming rise in statistics is higher than children affected by pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.
Rep. Pavalock, who also serves on the legislature’s Aging Committee further commented, “It is also important that we continue the discussion on how to best serve this population throughout their lifetime. Equally as important is assisting elderly parents and caregivers of adult children with ASD, particularly with aging and end of life issues. I look forward to continued work and discussion on these issues on both the Aging Committee and the I/DD Caucus.”
Representative Pavalock represents the 77th District and the city of Bristol in the General Assembly.