Crossing Tiny Ripples of Hope: Uniting Utah’s Response to Autism at the State of Utah Legislative Spouse Luncheon on January 31st had been in the planning stages for nearly 4 months. No one knew then that the event would share the month with the introduction of several pieces of state legislation impacting individuals and families affected by autism or that the proposed changes in the diagnostic criteria DSM 5 set to take effect in 2013 would be a part of the national dialogue. The timing was serendipitous, to say the least.
The three major goals for the luncheon included: 1) communication of a sense of urgency related to the rising prevalence of autism; 2) demonstrating Utah State University’s commitment to autism education, research and increased provision of effective intervention and treatment in the state; and 3) making a bold statement that differing and diverse opinions, perceptions and paradigms about the causation/intervention/treatment of autism spectrum disorders can encourage an energetic solution-generating atmosphere. It is our position that these differences should not be given the power to mire an appropriate response to rising number of families affected by autism but should drive academic discourse and the resulting innovations.
We are enormously grateful to Joyce Albrecht, First Lady of Utah State University and Development Officer of the Caine College of the Arts, for giving us the opportunity to speak about Evidence and Artifacts: Facing Autism. Because of her invitation, we were able to share the frightening statistical realties of autism, and also some of our personal journey raising young children on the spectrum. We want to thank our autism advocacy partners in other institutions for attending the luncheon especially Toni Harris, Assistant Dean for Administration and Development for the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Utah Valley University, and Dr. Judy Pinborough Zimmerman, Ph.D. Principal Investigator, UT-ADDM, University of Utah. We also would like to thank our collegues at USU, Dr. Bryce Fifield, Director of the Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD), and Janel Preston, Autism Specialist at the CPD’s Up To Three Program (Babywatch) for providing the distinguished guests with a well rounded understanding of the issues surrounding autism and Utah State University’s contribution to education, research and service provision. Lastly, we would like to express our gratitude to Debbie Key, Behavior Specialist, for helping our children truly enjoy the event.
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
– Robert F. Kennedy