SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva, Glenn Rossman, Ava Smith, Elizabeth White

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Pennsylvania Governor Corbett Declares April 2 as Autism Awareness Day

April is National Autism Awareness Month

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett has declared April 2 as Autism Awareness Day in Pennsylvania in recognition of the challenges faced by individuals diagnosed with autism and their families.

"The number of individuals with autism who receive services in the commonwealth has nearly tripled in the last few years, to more than 56,000 Pennsylvanians," Governor Corbett said. 

National statistics on the prevalence of autism indicate there could be 130,000 more Pennsylvanians living with autism who are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with another disorder.

"I encourage all Pennsylvanians to help in the efforts to raise awareness about autism. I will continue my commitment to provide better access to services for individuals with autism, as well as support early diagnosis and early behavioral intervention," Corbett continued.

Governor Corbett has committed to increasing the number of individuals served through the commonwealth's programs to help them live within their homes and communities. With an additional investment included in his 2014-15 budget proposal, 100 more individuals with autism statewide could receive home and community-based services.

The governor's proposal also supports investment in early intervention, which provides support for students with developmental disabilities, ages three to five. The total $237.5 million proposed includes $9.5 million to serve an additional 1,500 children, bringing the total number of students receiving services to nearly 52,350.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, highlighted by a global initiative to "Light it Up Blue" and kick off April as Autism Awareness Month. Many iconic landmarks and communities take part to "Light It Up Blue", including the Capitol building in Harrisburg. Governor Corbett is also wearing the signature blue pin for the campaign throughout the day to encourage awareness.

"One child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes," said Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth. "We're working to create a greater public awareness of this cause and to ensure that services are there for this population."

The innovative programs administered by the Department of Public Welfare's Bureau of Autism Services are among the only in the nation to focus on serving adults with autism.

The department also funds and oversees the Autism Services, Education, Research, and Training Collaboratives (ASERT). For more information on the ASERT Collaborative, visit www.paautism.org or call 1-877-231-4244 to get connected to local resources.

For more information visit www.dpw.state.pa.us.

Media contact:    
Christine Cronkright, Governor's Office, 717-783-1116
Kait Gillis, DPW, 717-425-7606

Editor's Note:  The proclamation from Governor Corbett is included below:
AUTISM AWARENESS DAY
April 2, 2014

WHEREAS, Autism can affect anyone regardless of race, religion, socio-economic status or geography; and

WHEREAS, the incidence of autism in the United States is 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys; and

WHEREAS, a child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes; and

WHEREAS, autism affects more than 3 million people in the United States and more than 56,000 individuals in the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, on December 18, 2007 the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 62/139 World Autism Awareness Day by unanimous consent, encouraging UN Member States to take measures to raise awareness about autism throughout society and to promote early diagnosis and early behavioral intervention; and

WHEREAS, the aims for World Autism Awareness Day are to inform the general public about the global health crisis of autism, stress the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention, and to celebrate the unique talents and qualities of individuals with autism; and

WHEREAS, autism is a lifelong condition in which the bulk of costs may be borne in adulthood, creating an enormous impact.

THEREFORE, In recognition of the plight faced by individuals diagnosed with autism as well as the difficulties their families may face, I, Tom Corbett, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby proclaim April 2, 2014, as AUTISM AWARENESS DAY.  I encourage all Pennsylvanians to provide their support in furthering awareness about autism.

GIVEN under my hand and the Seal of the Governor, at the City of Harrisburg, on this seventeenth day of March in the year of our Lord two thousand and fourteen, and of the Commonwealth the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

TOM CORBETT
Governor

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

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