AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH

April 25, 2019 at 4:30 am

Sesame Workshop is teaching viewers how to live with and love those on the autism spectrum.

Aired on April 24, 2019.

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>>> GOOD EVENING.
APRIL IS WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS
MONTH AND THIS YEAR, AS IN YEARS
PAST, AUTISM SPEAKS IS
CELEBRATING IN A VERY BIG WAY.
THE ORGANIZATION FOUNDED BY MY
FRIENDS AND HIS LATE WIFE
SUZANNE.
LAUNCHING A NEW PUBLIC AWARENESS
CAMPAIGN WITH OUR GOOD FRIENDS
AT THE SESAME WORKSHOP BETWEEN
JULIA, THE FIRST SESAME STREET
MUPPET, WITH AUTISM.
THEIR GOAL, TO PROVIDE RESOURCES
ABOUT AUTISM IN BOTH SPANISH AND
ENGLISH TO HELP LOWER THE AGE OF
AUTISM DIAGNOSIS AND TO EMPOWER
PARENTS.
HERE TO TELL US MORE ABOUT
RAISING AWARENESS AND
CELEBRATING THOSE INDIVIDUALS
WHO LIVE WITH THE DISORDER AND
THEIR FAMILIES, ANGELA, WHO IS
THE CEO AND PRESIDENT OF AUTISM
SPEAKS.
A GOOD FRIEND FOR A LOT OF
YEARS.
GOOD TO SEE YOU.
>> GOOD TO SEE YOU TOO, JACK.
>> I WANT YOU TO EXPLAIN TO US
THE NOTION OF AUTISM AND WHAT IT
ENCOMPASSES.
I SUSPECT A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK
IT IS A SINGLE CATEGORY
CONDITION.
>> I THINK THAT YOU'RE CORRECT.
IT IS ONE OF THE MISCONCEPTIONS.
YOU MAY KNOW ONE PERSON WITH
AUTISM AND THINK EVERYONE IS
LIKE THAT BUT IT IS A SPECTRUM.
YOU HAVE MANY WHO ARE HIGHLY
FUNCTIONING IN DAILY LIFE,
EMPLOYED, WORKING, AND THEN YOU
HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO
NEED 24/7 CARE FOR THE REST OF
THEIR LIVES AND MOST ARE
SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE.
>> YOU'VE SAID THIS.
I'VE HEARD IT SAID OFTEN.
IF YOU MET ONE PERSON WITH
AUTISM, YOU'VE MET ONE PERSON
WITH AUTISM.
BECAUSE OF ALL THE VARIETY OF
CIRCUMSTANCES THAT YOU TALKED
ABOUT.
LET'S DISPEL ANOTHER NOTION OUT
THERE.
THE IDEA THAT AUTISM CAN BE
CAUSED BY VACCINE.
WHAT HAS SCIENCE TOLD US ABOUT
THAT?
>> AFTER DECADES OF RESEARCH, IT
IS VERY CLEAR THAT VACCINES DO
NOT CAUSE AUTISM.
>> AND YET PEOPLE STILL CLING TO
THIS.
>> YEAH.
IT'S INTERESTING.
I THINK THAT'S REALLY SOFTENED
OVER THE YEARS.
FOR EXAMPLE, THE REASON COVERAGE
IS FEATURING AUTISM MUCH LESS
THAN SOME OTHER ISSUES.
>> AUTISM SPEAKS.
TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THE
ORGANIZATION AND WHAT YOU'VE
BEEN DOING AND THEN I WANT TO
GET INTO SOME SPECIFICS.
>> IT IS STILL A YOUNG
ORGANIZATION.
NOT EVEN 15 YEARS OLD.
AND IT WAS REALLY THE BRAIN
CHILD, AS YOU SAID, OF BOB AND
SUZANNE WRIGHT AND LEADING
ORGANIZATIONS CAME TOGETHER TO
COALESCE, TO MAKE A BIG
DIFFERENCE IN ADVOCACY AND
RESEARCH AND THEN HELPING
FAMILIES AND PEOPLE WITH AUTISM
DIRECTLY.
>> I MENTIONED THE PARTNERSHIP.
AND JULIA, THE NEW PERSON ON
SESAME STREET.
WHAT IS THE CONCEPT BEHIND THAT?
>> JULIA IS 4.
AND THE IDEA IS THAT HER PARENTS
RECOGNIZED THESE SIGNS.
SHE CLEARLY HAD A DIAGNOSIS
EARLY.
AND WE'RE USING HER AS A MODEL
FOR WHEN YOU GET EARLY
INTERVENTION, IT MAKES LIFETIME
OF DIFFERENCE TO THE FAMILY.
>> SO WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES THE
IDEA OF EARLY DIAGNOSIS MAKE?
>> WELL, EARLY DIAGNOSIS LEADS
TO EARLY INTERVENTION.
RESEARCH SHOWS EARLY
INTERVENTION CAN MAKE A LIFETIME
OF DIFFERENCE.
I WAS JUST WITH A FATHER TODAY,
STEVEN, WHO TOLD US HIS SON WAS
NONVERBAL AND WAS DIAGNOSED,
THEY RECOGNIZED THE SYMPTOMS
EARLY.
THEY HAD FORMAL DIAGNOSIS WHEN
HE WAS 3.
GOT HIM TO A SPEECH THERAPIST IN
THE HOUSE AND AS HIS FATHER
SAYS, HE WON'T STOP TALKING.
>> SO WHAT SORT OF THINGS SHOULD
PARENTS BE LOOKING FOR?
ANYONE BE LOOKING FOR?
>> SO AUTISM CAN BE DIAGNOSED
BETWEEN 18 MONTHS AND 2 YEARS OF
AGE.
YOU'RE LOOKING FOR THE
DEVELOPMENTAL MARKS.
EYE CONTACT, SOME WORDS LEADING
UP TO THAT, TO 2, AND CERTAINLY
MAKING EYE CONTACT AND
INTERACTING.
ONE OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS IS
NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE, IF
YOU HAVE A LOSS OF WORDS OR
SOCIAL SKILLS, YOU SHOULD TALK
TO YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.
>> DOES THAT MEAN FOR ANYONE OUT
THERE WATCHING, I HAVE A CHILD
WHO IS NOT REALLY BABBLING YET
OR TALKING YET, OH, MY GOODNESS,
THEY MUST BE WITHIN THE AUTISM
EX
SPECTRUM?
>> YOU CAN GO TO AUTISM
SPEAKS.ORG AND TAKE A SCREENING
TOOL.
IF YOU'RE CONCERNED.
IF YOU ANSWER A FEW SIMPLE
QUESTIONS AND IT TELLS YOU
WHETHER OR NOT YOU SHOULD
CONSULT A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.
>> WHAT SORT OF SERVICES, ONCE A
DIAGNOSIS IS MADE, CAN BE
PROVIDED FOR THE CHILD AND THE
CAREGIVERS.
>> WE TALKED ABOUT IT BEING ON
THE SPECTRUM.
SO IT VARIES BY CHILD.
IT WILL PROBABLY INCLUDE
BEHAVIORAL THERAPY AND IT MAY
INCLUDE THINGS LIKE OCCUPATIONAL
THERAPY, SPEECH THERAPY,
SOMETIMES MOTION, DIFFERENT
THINGS.
>> ONE OF THE THINGS THE
ORGANIZATION IS DOING IS GETTING
BEHIND THE NOTION OF
LEGISLATION.
LET'S SEE WHAT WE CAN GET THE
GOVERNMENT TO DO TO HELP US.
TELL US SOME OF THOSE EFFORTS.
>> THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
WE'RE WORKING IS THE AUTISM
CARES ACT.
IT IS THE FUNDAMENTAL BILL THAT
PROVIDES THE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR
AUTISM RESEARCH AND CARE.
>> WHAT HAS BEEN IN PLACE SO FAR
AND WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO GET
IN PLACE IN THE FUTURE?
>> SO, ONE OF THE THINGS WE'RE
HOPING FOR IS CONTINUED
INCREASED RESEARCH FUNDING.
IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT
AUTISM WAS FUNDED LESS THAN $10
MILLION 15 YEARS AGO.
IT WAS THAT MINIMAL.
IT IS NOW IN THE HIGH $200
MIL
MILLIONS.
IT STILL PALES IN COMPARISON TO
THE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.
BUT IT PROVIDES FUNDING FOR THE
MEDICAL TREATMENT CENTERS AROUND
THE COUNTRY THAT TREAT CHILDREN
WITH AUTISM.
>> WHAT ARE WE SEEING?
YOU'LL GET SOME SORT OF STUDIES
COMING OUT AND THEY'LL GIVE YOU
NUMBERS.
IN TERMS OF THE INCIDENTS OF
AUTISM.
WHAT ARE WE SEEING IN TERMS OF
RELIABLE NUMBERS?
>> SO THE CDC'S OFFICIAL NUMBER
IS 1 IN 59.
IT IS PRETTY WIDELY RECOGNIZED
THAT THAT NUMBER IS PROBABLY, IT
IS TOO LOW.
THAT WE SEE STATES THAT HAVE
NUMBERS 1 IN 33.
1 IN 42.
SO I THINK IT IS DEFINITELY, WE
DEFINITELY SEE A YEAR OVER YEAR
DIFFERENCE IN THE WAY THINGS ARE
CALCULATED DIRECTLY.
LAST YEAR THEY WERE REPORTING A
15% INCREASE IN AUTISM.
SO IT WAS DEFINITELY ON THE
RISE.
>> YOU HAD A SENSE THAT THERE IS
SOME MOMENTUM THERE.
SOME BIPARTISAN HELP.
>> I WAS ON THE HILL LAST WEEK
HAVING BEEN ON BOTH SIDES OF THE
AISLE OF THE I BARELY GOT AN ASK
OUT AND PEOPLE WERE TELLING ME
HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS TO THEM.
>> I THINK PROBABLY EVERYBODY
KNOWS SOMEBODY, RELATED TO
SOMEBODY.
LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.
A NUMBER OF THE GOALS THAT YOUR
ORGANIZATION HAS, AMONG THE
NUMBER OF GOALS.
ONE IS AWARENESS.
AND WE'VE CERTAINLY BEEN WORKING
ON THAT.
THE OTHER IS UNDERSTANDING.
GETTING MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO
UNDERSTAND, JUST BECAUSE
SOMEBODY MIGHT BE ON THE
AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DOESN'T MEAN
THAT THEY CAN'T BE PART OF
SOCIETY.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE MAKING
PROGRESS IN TERMS OF
UNDERSTANDING?
>> I DO.
WE REALLY THAT I HAVE HAD A
COUPLE YEARS AGO TO CREATE A
WORLD THAT'S MORE UNDERSTANDING
FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM.
WE'RE SEEING IT IN SOCIAL MEDIA.
PEOPLE ARE POSTING THEIR STORIES
AND HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE, THAT'S
AMAZING.
WHAT A GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT.
AND BEING SUPPORTIVE FOR PEOPLE
WHO HAVE A LOT OF CHALLENGES.
>> AND YOU SEE IN SOCIAL MEDIA,
OUT IN THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD.
THE GOOD DOCTOR.
WHICH IS A FABULOUS TELEVISION
SHOW THAT ALSO HAPPENS TO FOCUS
ON A DOCTOR ON THE SPECTRUM.
IT IS INTERESTING HOW THEY TELL
THE STORIES.
I WOULD MANNING IT HELPS IN
TERMS OF THE UNDERSTANDING
ASPECT.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
IT IS ALWAYS GOOD TO TALK WITH
YOU.
YOU'RE DOING MARVELOUS WORK OUT
THERE.
GOOD LUCK TO YOU.
>> GOOD SEEING YOU AGAIN.
>>> A REMINDER TO YOU, FOR MORE
INFORMATION ON AUTISM SPEAKS,
YOU CAN VISIT OUR WEBSITE ON
METROFOCUS.ORG.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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