April is Autism Acceptance Month.
The CDC recently reported that 1:36 children have autism. Autism is a developmental disability in which a person shows significant impairment in the areas of social-interaction, communication, and behavior that affects their ability to function. These symptoms are present during the early developmental period of their life, and if left unaddressed, symptoms may impede an individual’s ability to navigate their day to day routines.
The Meredith Autism Program (MAP) is an early intervention program that serves preschool aged children in the triangle area diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. It is our mission to offer value-based care through the implementation of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in order for autistic children to reach their fullest potential. At the same time, MAP provides a hands-on learning experience in the field of autism and ABA for Meredith College students. MAP officially started as a course for students in 1998, and during these last 25 years, we have experienced a lot of growth and change in our field.
MAP embraces the awareness of autism and the perception of the application of ABA when addressing symptoms with autistic individuals. Our goal is to disseminate information for how ABA was once implemented in its early days (the 1960s), recognize how offensive it was, and stand behind how the implementation has shifted in order to protect and encourage the uniqueness of each individual in our care.
MAP is passionate to encourage the acceptance of autism. Our goal is to allow each individual to thrive in their own way, and build a strong foundation for learning based on an individual’s strengths. We make it a priority to educate parents and community members about common autistic traits. We focus on self-advocacy and give our current clients the tools they need to effectively advocate for their own needs that will help them grow into empowered (rather than compliant) autistic adolescents and adults. MAP values the opportunity to create inclusive environments, and encourages families and community members to put in place a variety of supports for autistic individuals that allows for their participation in all activities within the home, school, and community settings.
MAP is committed to the advocacy of the autistic community. Our goal is to not only listen to, but actively seek out input from autistic individuals to ensure the social validity and appropriateness of our interventions. In the near future, MAP wishes to establish a panel of autistic students, parents, and professionals to serve as our sounding board as we navigate our clinical practice. Anyone interested in serving on this panel is welcome to reach out via email.
This year, for Autism Acceptance month, we are unveiling our new MAP logo. We’re using Meredith College colors to show our connection to our place of practice and partnership with undergraduate students. We are adopting the gold infinity symbol as a pledge to accept and advocate for the autistic community. Together, we believe we can and will do better, and we believe in the positive impact we’ll make in our community.