Merne Manor, Fargo, letter: Don’t waste any more childrenEven though the Legislature currently is investigating ways to help children who are on the autism/Asperger spectrum, the Department of Human Services has decided it is not mandated to serve these children. Therefore, the children will not get services.
By: Merne Manor,
FARGO — North Dakota is wasting its children, specifically the one in 88 who are on the autism/Asperger spectrum. Even though the Legislature currently is investigating ways to help these children, the Department of Human Services has decided it is not mandated to serve these children. Therefore, the children will not get services.
Without such services, these children are destined to join the 93 percent of spectrum adults who depend on public assistance.
Complicating this is the image of Raymond in “Rainman” who many see as typical person on the autism spectrum. In reality, people on the spectrum have incredible potential. Temple Grandin, for instance, has designed half the slaughterhouses in the United States because she thinks in pictures; but her mother had been told to institutionalize Temple because of the child’s autism.
Einstein, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Mozart and Thomas Jefferson are just a few of the people who appear to be on the spectrum but whose “out of the box” thinking changed our world. Because their minds work differently than those of the rest of us, they are the creative individuals so vital in a post-industrial world.
But they need help to achieve their potential. Interventions before school age can overcome the worst of their problems and prepare them for a successful launch into school. Once in school, they need teachers well educated about their differences as well as the assistive services mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
And starting at age 14, they need transition services that teach them the social and everyday skills the rest of us pick up without thinking. The payoff can be creative individuals who may not be as well adjusted as the rest of us would like, but who can and do contribute to our world in highly significant ways.
Let’s take care of these children the North Dakota way. We help others. Why else would we have so many benefit events?
Let’s be wise like our farmers, who take care of problems before they become problems.
Herald readers should contact the state’s Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force or the Legislature’s committees on human services.