NEW YORK—Parents, children, teachers, and council members joined Tuesday on the steps of City Hall to seek continued city funding for autism services.
“Autism is a disorder that knows no boundaries, it affects children of every race, color, creed, and social standing,” said Councilman Mark Weprin in a press release. “Too many children today are stricken with this disorder that not only affects them; it affects their families as well.”
Impacting 1 in every 110 children, autism is incurable. Nevertheless, it has been proven that children with autism respond better and have a better quality of life when offered services and are accompanied by other children to engage in social skill developing activities.
Over the last year, the city council “1 in 150” funding had supported 12 training and 13 wraparound providers who collectively conducted 145 training workshops for parents and educators in all five boroughs. The afterschool and weekend services include basketball league, weekend respite, holiday activities, crisis intervention, and kids clubs for children with autism spectrum disorder.
For one-third of children on the autism spectrum who are high functioning, they cannot qualify for any other publicly funded programs except for the wraparound services.
“This initiative has provided social and recreational service for children on the autism spectrum, and educational and training services to their families so that their children can live fuller and productive lives,” said Weprin. “The importance of the work done through this initiative can’t be overstated, not only in terms of the direct programming provided, but often times as the caretaker for children that allows their parents to hold jobs.”
Sandra Vasquez-Lugo, a parent of a child who participates in the YAI programs, spoke at the rally about the impact of the services.
“[The services] have allowed my son to recapture speech and has given new hope to our entire family,” she said.
Sarah Birnbaum, an advocate, spoke on behalf of the entire community of those utilizing the services and their families.
“Without this critical funding, children on the spectrum will never have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives, and some parents and caretakers may be robbed of the opportunity to support their families if their children are not cared for.”