MARQUETTE, Mich. (WZMQ) – Nationally, the month of April is Autism Awareness Month and has been observed yearly since 1972.
According to Marquette – Alger RESA’s Special Education Executive Director, Dr. Tammy Nyen, Autism Awareness month has shifted from mere awareness to acceptance, and focusing on students’ abilities instead of their disabilities.
She further explained, “When you have a child with autism, all the things that they can do, we look at it as acceptance more than awareness and we look at diversity, equity and we have individuals that move into the workforce is how can we help these individuals. Just like everyone else, we would want to be gainfully employed and a functioning member in our society.”
In the two-county region MARESA covers, Dr. Nyen says there are 1,600 students with disabilities and 141 students identified as having autism, requiring specialized instruction.
Dr. Nyen says they follow an extensive evaluation process to identify one of the 13 disabilities and said, “So when we have 141 students, they have gone through that full evaluation process the parents are part of that process to look at whether they do have a disability requiring specialized instruction.”
Dr. Nyen says there could be more students than the 141 identified with autism in their region that do not require specialized instruction therefore not impacting their numbers.
To find out more about MARESA’s program, click here.