The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Rise in autism rates leads to ASD support

Autism rates in the U.S. are on the rise.

Fifteen years ago, the national rate was 1 out of every 10,000 children. In 2012, Autism Spectrum Disorder affected 1 out of every 88 children. On March 28, the Center for Disease Control released a report stating that the prevalence of autism had increased to 1 in every 68.

The average age for autism diagnosis is approximately eight, but symptoms can be recognized as early as the age of two. Avoiding eye contact, not answering to their name and the inability to form friendships with children their age are all indications of the disorder.

“Autism generally means different social interactions and some degree of pervasive, unusual behavior  at home, at school and in other environments,” said Coordinator of Disability Resources Georgieann Bogdan. “In that case, you are considered to be on the spectrum.”

The three most common disorders on the autism spectrum are autism, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified.

Popular character examples speculated to be on the spectrum by fans include Sheldon Cooper from CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” and Abed Nadir from the NBC comedy series “Community.”

“Making people more aware of learning and behavioral differences can open our eyes to amazing minds,” said Bogdan. “I feel that educating in a positive way is important, but so is a sense of humor. Both can be done tactfully and intentionally.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act has, in part, helped to resolve issues related to hiring people with disabilities like ASD. Recently in Rhode Island, however, it was discovered that certain employers were not abiding by the guidelines established by the ADA.

“I was there for 30 years,” said Steven Porcelli, a Rhode Island resident with ASD, in an interview with The New York Times. “I was doing piecework most of the time, which I didn’t like too much.”

Porcelli also said that he received $2 an hour for a job that included making jewelry, packing medical supplies and grating cheese and stuffing peppers for an Italian restaurant.

With the help of Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the state of Rhode Island was reprimanded by federal officials and given 10 years to resolve its violations of the ADA.

Porcelli now receives $8 an hour at his new job: doing office work and computer training at Automated Business Solutions, a small business.

Beyond the borders of Warwick, R.I., autism’s sharp increase over the past 15 years beckons a greater need for universal design, or inclusive design.

According to the National Association for Home Builders, “Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

Incorporating universal design features is a relevant topic at Guilford College.

“At Guilford, we have a very high proportion of students on the spectrum as compared to sister institutions,” said Bogdan. “We blow them out of the water.”

Guilford’s current population of students with ASD is 79, which is more than double the average at institutions of similar size.

The College has been working on incorporating universal design into all of its buildings in the interest of upholding its core values of diversity and equality. The addition of an automatic door entrance to the majority of academic buildings on campus is an example.

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