NUTLEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — April is Autism Awareness Month, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just announced that 1 in 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism.
CBS2’s Cindy Hsu spoke to parents about the challenges in the community, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thirteen-year-old Alec Fiordilino is on the autism spectrum, and his mom, Lori Fiordilino, now has to teach him from home.
“He’s on edge. He’s having a little bit more meltdowns. I see some of the behaviors we had worked on previously, they’re starting to come out,” Lori said.
For children with autism, a set schedule is key. Alec is normally at school for six hours.
- State-By-State, County-By-County Resources
- Distance Learning Tools for Teachers & Parents
- Ask Dr. Max Your Questions
- Tips For Avoiding Psychological Isolation
- Talking To Kids About Anxiety
- How To Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer
- Complete Coronavirus Coverage
- CDC Latest Updates
It’s just not classroom time the kids are missing. Many are not getting the services they need.
“They’re missing out on speech. They’re missing out on [occupational therapy]. They’re missing out on PT,” Lori said.
Many are turning to social media for help.
Kerry Magro is one professional speaker who offered a free webinar. Magro was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old, overcame many obstacles and now travels the world talking about autism and inclusion.
Magro helped parents, teachers and advocates find ways to deal with COVID-19. He said parents need to somehow come up with a new routine for their child and know they’re not alone.
“Remember to breathe. Take it one day at a time,” Magro said. “Look to your village, if you are feeling down one day, for support.”
CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211
There’s a lot of support out there. Many autism groups are addressing COVID-19 on their websites.
Lori Fiordilino says she’s also hoping everyone will learn more about autism.
“If you get to know them, they’re the most lovable. I adore each and every one that I get to meet, and I’m lucky I get to meet a lot of them,” she said.
She says instead of autism awareness, think about autism acceptance.