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Its been a busy Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month!

As we close out Autism Awareness and Acceptance month, we are excited to share with you what has been happening in and around our community.

First I am excited to announce that though I have been busy with my doctoral work of late, the end is near as I officially graduate on Saturday. With my extra time I hope to invest more in growing this community. In the year since this community launched our numbers have increased slowly and quietly with a solid base of health professionals; but we can do better.

Around the autism community April has been busy. One highlight was the release of updated data from the CDC showing, to nobody’s surprise, an increased prevalence among children around the country. We know we are doing a better job at identification; the question is, are we doing a better job of supporting? Still missing from this information is solid prevalence data among adults; though we know numbers are likely rising as children age up and as adults obtain diagnoses.

In an exciting bit of news, we learned of a new peer-reviewed journal called Autism in Adulthood, whose preview issue released April 18, 2018. The editor, a well-known researcher in the field of adults and autism, described the journal as a "...a home for research and scholarship on the most pressing issues affecting autistic adults, from emerging adulthood to later life." Notably, autistic adults have been included in both the editorial board and the peer-review process. The first issue covers a wide range of topics and we encourage you to read it. We look forward to seeing what comes from this journal.

As a representative of the Health Professions Autism Network, I was busy spreading the word in April. Last week I presented a conference breakout session, “Beyond awareness toward equity: Strategies and resources for teaching autism-appropriate care”, to nurse educators at a regional conference in Minnesota.

At the same conference I presented a poster on the creation of this community and the benefits of joining.

Also in April, I learned that my poster was accepted at a national conference for clinicians called the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved. In Washington, DC at the end of July, this conference is a tremendous opportunity to reach a multidisciplinary group of providers from all over the country who have an interest in reducing health disparities. It looks to be a great conference, so I encourage anyone who is thinking about it to attend and come see the poster!

As I consider the future of this community I know we have many varying needs. First, we need to continue to build our membership. I ask that each of you help spread the word among your peers. Talk about the importance of what we are doing; print community flyers from the webpage and post them at your various sites; invite your peers and your health providers to join us. Next, we need to continue to build content. If you have a story to share or a particular interest relating to healthcare for the autism community, please consider writing a guest blog post. Last, we need to build interaction within and among community members. Please respond to the discussion board or ask your own questions of the community. Let’s get the conversation going!

Thank you all for your interest and dedication in improving healthcare for autistic individuals and their families. We look forward to continuing this important work with all of you.

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