April is Autism Awareness Month in B.C.

Autism Spectrum Disorders affect about one in every 110 children and their families in B.C. The B.C. government is recognizing and honouring children, youth and families living with autism, by celebrating the annual Autism Awareness Month in April, and World Autism Awareness Day was recognized on April 2.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) impact normal brain development and affect a person’s social relationships, communication, interests and behaviour. ASDs have been found throughout the world in families of all ethnic and social backgrounds. Although there is no cure for autism, there are highly effective research-based treatment and intervention methods available that can help children and their families address the characteristics of this disorder, particularly in the early years.

B.C. is a national leader in autism supports and services for children and youth. It’s the only province in Canada that has a no waitlist policy for families to access autism funding once their child or youth has received a diagnosis of ASD. With autism funding, families are able to choose the type of intervention, based on best practice, that best meets the needs of their children.

“We are working together with community groups to raise public awareness and understanding and to help support children and families living with autism in all corners of B.C. This month shines the spotlight on autism, helping to bring it to the forefront in the public eye,” says Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development.

B.C. now serves close to 7,000 children  and youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families, compared to only a few hundred prior to 2000.

The ministry budget for autism intervention and funding programs in 2011-12 is $42 million. That’s more than ten times the 2001 budget of $4.1 million.

To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and B.C. government-funded services for children and youth with autism, go to: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/autism/index.htm