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Letter to the Editor: Autism

— Autism’s people

To the editor:

We were encouraged to see the Chronicle’s Dialogue urging greater awareness and actions on autism for the month of April. Autism is a life-affecting developmental condition that is growing amongst our children at an inexplicable rate, yet receives only 0.55 percent of total NIH research funding.

This is a particular concern for The Dalles, which is recognized as a regional hotspot for autism.

It is easy to see the worst in this condition and its projections when you look at the growing prevalence statistics and the minimal funding for therapies or school assistance. But it’s important to remember a person on the autism spectrum is just that: not something broken to be fixed, but a person — with the myriad components that make up all of us.

For every challenge for a person on the spectrum, such as social or communication difficulties, there are often unexpected treasures to discover, such as a particular talent or aptitude for visual or tech-based activities.

In recognition of this, the North Wasco County School District #21 is bringing the iSTAR program to The Dalles this summer (istar.utah.edu). iSTAR uses the development of specific computer-based skills in the context of social interactions to help children on the autism spectrum develop skills that could facilitate future job opportunities.

We applaud our local district for continuing to investigate ways in which children on the autism spectrum can reach their full potential in our schools.

Aaron and Katy Bowman

Lori and Randall Carter

www.reachthedalles.org

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