Professors help create state plan for Autism education

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The newly released Michigan Autism Spectrum Disorders Plan addresses the needs of the 16,000 students with ASD in the state’s public school system and 50,000 individuals and their families living with ASD in Michigan.

The plan, released March 18 by the Department of Community Health and the Michigan Autism Council, focused on several key areas to support those with Autism including family involvement, education support, early identification and intervention and health care.

Amy Matthews, director of the Autism Education Center at Grand Valley State University, led the effort in creating the plan, overseeing a committee of 51 people from across the state. Jamie Owen-DeSchryver, project faculty on the Statewide Autism Resources and Training (START) project at Grand Valley, co-chaired the plan development committee.

“This new plan helps define the future direction of public and private services and resources for individuals with ASD and their families,” Matthews said.
 
Data used to prepare the plan was gathered from a variety of sources including literature reviews, published reports and recommendations, parent and professional surveys, public input and expert opinion.

“The number of children diagnosed with ASD is continuing to rise dramatically and it is essential that these children receive the best education, health care, and interventions possible,” said Matthews. “We also have adolescents in the state who are preparing to transition to adulthood and need access to employment, college, social connections, and a range of housing options. Adults on the autism spectrum need to have the rights and privileges afforded all Michigan citizens. That is why we created this state plan.”

To view the Michigan ASD State Plan, visit www.michigan.gov/autism. For more information on Grand Valley’s Autism Education Center visit www.gvsu.edu/autismcenter.