Autism Treatment On The Western Slope Is Falling Behind

By: James Hopkins Email
By: James Hopkins Email

Autism is a disorder that has life long effects on not only the person suffering from the disorder but their families as well and many on the western slope are finding it difficult to get help.

Autism is a social disorder that impairs social interaction and communication and something that as a nation we're seeing more and more. Twenty years ago 1 in 25,000 children were diagnosed with the disorder but today the C.D.C. says it's 1 in 169.

Larry Beckner is just one of twenty four on the Colorado Autism Commission who is trying to help families cope. He states that "One of the primary things we are trying to do is first isolate and identify the programs that are in existence, create a single point of entry so families know what's available, and then to start building and provide help for families". The board has until October to submit what changes they think need to be made in the state of Colorado and for him the course of action is pretty cut and dry. He says that he believes that "with early identification and early intervention that there can be a significant improvement in a child's life"

Jill Frazier sees this fact first hand. When her son Daniel was diagnosed they were living in Denver. If the family had lived here she thinks the outcome would be different, and that difference would have life long effects. "I think it made a world of difference that Daniel had early intervention, early intervention is the key to reaching these kids"

Beckner says services are more readily available in larger cities and that is just one thing he hopes the committee can change. The committee is looking to change how autism is treated on the western slope. As of now there are only a few programs in place that are specifically related to autism. Treatment is expensive, programs and education on the disorder are limited and the waiting list for financial help is long. So while identifying the shortfalls of our system is just the first step, it is a step in the right direction.

The committee is holding a public hearing at the Glenn Gallegos Board Room, Mesa State College Campus tonight from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. and a second hearing on March 2 from 6:30-8:30pm at the Delta-Montrose Electric Association community room. The hearings are intended to give interested parties an opportunity to hear and be heard.

There are also several support groups across the grand valley for families dealing with autism.
The 3rd Monday of each month at 6:00pm at Old Chicago's and every Monday at 1:00pm at Java Junction. For more information on these and future support groups please contact Jill Frazier at (970) 985-4013.

For more information on the committee or to submit your testimony, click on the one of the links below.


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