As May Institute marks its anniversary this month, 56 years after its founding, I am reminded of the progress we have made over the past six decades. Not just at May Institute, but in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Fifty-six years ago, most people had never heard of “autism.” Children diagnosed with the disorder were typically institutionalized for life. Prevailing wisdom blamed a mother’s lack of attachment to her child as the reason for the condition. Fear, shame, and a dearth of answers surrounded these families.
Today, as we continue to search aggressively for answers about autism, we have a growing arsenal of tools available to us. We can diagnose children as young as 16 months. We know which treatments are most effective, and we can provide intensive therapy that can change the trajectory of a child’s life. Through the years, we have helped countless individuals with autism obtain the skills they need to successfully transition from childhood into adulthood, and lead full and rewarding lives.
From May Institute’s own autism awareness campaigns during Autism Awareness Month in April, to the National Autism Center's ongoing international dissemination of information on effective treatments, to the United Nation’s commemoration of World Autism Awareness Day, education about autism is making its way to families and communities throughout the world.
We are as committed as ever to educating communities, treating individuals and families, and advancing the field of autism and developmental disabilities. There is still much to be done, but I look with hope to the future.
Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABBP, ABPP
President and CEO