For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- Everyone has heard the TV commercials about the incidence of autism, but did you know how difficult it is for people with autism and their families to find help on the Treasure Coast?
The good news is there is a plan for a Comprehensive Autism Center in Stuart.
April is National Autism Awareness month, and there is an urgent public health need to understand and meet the complex challenges of dealing with autism. With increased public awareness of autism and autism spectrum disorders, this provides a good opportunity to review some important facts about autism, and to understand how autism can impact us in our daily lives in our communities
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. With 1 in 88 individuals currently affected by autism, and 46,000 families estimated to start their journeys with autism this year, autism advocates on the Treasure Coast are calling on lawmakers to act now to create a more efficient system for accessing services.
"Diagnosing autism spectrum disorders can be difficult because there is no medical test for the condition. Doctors look at the child's behavior and development to make a diagnosis," says Dr. Michele Libman, director of Treasure Coast Urgent & Family Care.
According to Ginny Jones, clinical director of behavioral services at Helping People Succeed in Stuart, there is a crucial need to understand and provide solutions for Autism spectrum disorders on the Treasure Coast.
Martin County Schools have approximately 275 students with an ASD exceptionality. This does not include students who may be in the spectrum but are not in the program.
"The autism advocates at Helping People Succeed have a vision to develop and implement a Comprehensive Autism Center in Stuart that will provide a one-stop shopping approach to autism services," said Robert Gluckman, a board member of Helping People Succeed, and COO of Treasure Coast Urgent & Family Care. "Parents will be able to obtain a diagnosis and a treatment plan, work with professionals to design a case management plan, and receive the variety of therapies necessary."
What should a parent who is concerned about a child's development or suspects autism do? Dr. Libman says the most important things to do are to act quickly; talk to your child's doctor about your concerns; and know the signs.
To find out about the current Autism services offered on the Treasure Coast, visit Helping People Succeeds website at www.hpsfl.org today.