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Promoting Acceptance in National Autism Awareness Month

April 21, 2023

During the month of April each year, we have an opportunity to help raise awareness for autism by acknowledging its real impacts, advocating for acceptance, and highlighting the services and treatments offered by the Mary W. Parker Autism Center at the Institute of Living.

Organizations across the country, including the Autism Society of America, are asking fellow institutions to replace “Awareness” with “Acceptance” as we strive for individuals with Autism to live fully in all areas of life. The goal is to be more inclusive of the very community we seek to celebrate and promote not just education about the differences of people with autism, but understanding and respect for those differences.

Autism is a complex, lifelong brain disorder that typically appears during early childhood and often affects a person’s communication skills, response to surroundings, and ability to form relationships with others. The Autism experience is different for everyone, and while there is currently no known single cause, early diagnosis helps a person receive resources that can support the choices and opportunities needed to live fully.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, with one in 36 children receiving a diagnosis. In addition to the 5.8 million Autistic adults, this prevalence means that Autism likely touches a vast majority of Americans either through relationships or direct experience, and the support needs across the Autism spectrum are vastly different.

The Mary W. Parker Autism Center at the Institute of living

Established in 2022, the Mary W. Parker Autism Center at the Institute of Living provides comprehensive, evidence-based, multidisciplinary care for individuals with autism spectrum disorder throughout their lives. We serve individuals, families, and communities throughout Connecticut through high-quality direct clinical service provision, research, and education.

“Our team at the Center offers a wide range of services that help each person affected by Autism live fully. Together we want to ensure our communities are connected to the resources they need, when they need them,” said Mara DeMaio, PhD, Director of Child and Adolescent Services at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital.

Professionals at the Center a have specialized skills in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as co-occurring mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression.

The Center offers psychological and psychiatric diagnostic evaluations for ASD, individual outpatient therapy, medication management, speech-language pathology, and consultation services. The IOL also conducts studies that aim to improve our understanding of ASD and related conditions in conjunction with the IOL Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, the Anxiety Disorders Center and the Clinical Trials Unit to develop and improve personalized treatment options for individuals based on robust neuroscientific research evidence.