Autism is a neurological disorder that impairs behavior and communication; often tragically. More than 4,000 families in Southwestern Pennsylvania have children with this disability. Their families are often overwhelmed by the enormous task of discerning and providing for their complex needs.
Existing solely on donated funds, the Autism Society of Pittsburgh – a chapter of the Autism Society of America – addresses the needs of these children through a comprehensive array of information, advocacy and referral services, which are provided to their families and the caring professionals and service providers who work with them. This includes creating, developing and improving programs and approaches in diagnosis, treatment, education, training and social adjustment.
How the Autism Society of Pittsburgh spends your donations. And why.
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix support for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh has rocketed awareness of the needs of those with autism to heights no other area of the country enjoys. And the massive crowds and event sponsors at the PVGP car shows, celebrations and vintage auto races provide steady funding that has helped increase autism services in our region every year since the event was founded in1983. The Autism Society of Pittsburgh exists solely on such donated funds.
For those with autism and their families, this funding also enables many of the “extras” that help improve their lives. Like a parent-driven resource website. Enlightenment of professionals in the juvenile justice system. Training of airline workers and preparation of parents for travel with autistic family members. Summer education program to prevent learning regression. Tickets to special autism-friendly shows, movies and sports. Community field trips and recreation. Professional and family support groups with speakers on key subjects. Reliable information and referrals. Advocacy.
According the Autism Society president Dan Torisky “In addition to sustaining all this for our growing autism population, much more remains to be done. And now, with the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation in the driver’s seat – literally – we look forward with confidence to the challenges. We can’t imagine a more appropriate Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix presenting sponsor!
Here are some of the programs funded by PVGP donations over the past two years:
Completion and distribution of the “Autism Takes Flight” program enabling children with autism to experience all aspects of the Pittsburgh International Airport to better prepare them for air travel. Initial training was held in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, Delta Air Lines and the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
SPEAK Summer Program – Founded in 1974 it provides therapeutic and recreational activities to almost 100 children ages 5-21 at Steel Valley High School. This Extended School Year program is being expanded to include dance therapy and fitness training, in addition to art, crafts, swimming, music and in-town community outings.
Follow up opportunities and obligations – Occasioned by our hosting of the 2013 National meeting and conference of the Autism Society of America— four days of autism training and education presentations, attended by 1300 parents, professionals and persons with autism. As a result, individual and organizational requests for information regionally and nationwide have increased tenfold.
Judicial training – Another collaboration with the State Bureau of Autism Services, this time to prepare webinars and a training program and film for legal and correctional professionals dealing with autistic offenders and suspects.
Support Group Workshops – Expansion beyond Pittsburgh and suburbs in order to reach more rural, suburban and small town families in the six county regional perimeter comprising the Greater Pittsburgh area and southwest Pennsylvania.
Website upgrade, refinement – The success of the Autism Society’s national conference in Pittsburgh has put our fledgling website on overload. This has also required additional service from our contracted webmaster, in order to maintain its quality and user-friendly utilization.
KAIS information website maintenance – This one-of-its-kind parent-fed website listing statewide autism friendly resources.
Joey Travolta Film Camp – The Autism Society of Pittsburgh was the Academy sponsor of Joey Travolta’s film premiere on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at the Waterworks Cinema in Fox Chapel. For the third year, film campers were the writers, directors, actors, producers and editors, bringing their own concepts and stories to life in three short movies, a commercial and a news broadcast. Originator was Carolyn Hare, director, Arts for Autism Foundation of Pittsburgh, and is currently signing up autism film campers for 2014.
“Autism-friendly” Nutcracker ballet performance – Tickets were purchased and given to students and parents from Spectrum Charter School, the S.P.E.A.K. Summer Program and Pace School. The performance on December 19, 2013 was a signature success and will become an annual event.
Facts and Statistics on Autism
1 percent of the population of children in the U.S. ages 3-17 have an autism spectrum disorder.
Prevalence is estimated at 1 in 88 births.
1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder.
Fastest-growing developmental disability; 1,148% growth rate.
10 – 17 % annual growth.
$60 billion annual cost.
60% of costs are in adult services.
Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention.
In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion.
1 percent of the adult population of the United Kingdom have an autism spectrum disorder.
The cost of autism over the lifespan is 3.2 million dollars per person.
Only 56% of students with autism finish high school.
The average per-pupil expenditure for educating a child with autism was estimated by SEEP to be over $18,000 in the 1999-2000 school year. This estimate was nearly three times the expenditure for a typical regular education student who did not receive special education services.
The unemployment rate for people with disabilities was at 14%, compared with 9% for people without a disability. Additionally, during the same period, only 21% of all adults with disabilities participated in the labor force as compared with 69% of the non-disabled population.