SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, is working to bring more awareness about the Autism community and challenges they face with legislation that would recognize the first week of April of each year as Autism Awareness Week.
“Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the world, and raising awareness helps people understand and not be frightened by the disability,” said Hernandez. “People often only talk about the negatives of Autism. Though the spectrum can be debilitating, it isn’t a bad thing. With this piece of legislation, Autism Awareness Week will serve as a time to celebrate loved ones and neighbors who are Autistic, while also being a time to work together and find solutions to the struggles that these families and individuals face.”
In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately 1 in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, according to 2016 data. Hernandez introduced House Bill 1954, which designates the first full week of April as Autism Awareness Week. The week would be observed throughout the state to promote Autism awareness and to encourage local businesses, schools, and residents to support the week and participate in educational events. The bill passed unanimously through the House of Representatives and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.
“The Autism Hero Project works to prepare kids with Autism for the world and prepare the world for them, and we believe inclusion legislation is integral in creating a world that is inclusive for all, and this bill does just that,” said Tamika Lechee Morales, Founder and CEO of The Autism Hero Project, an Autism advocacy non-for-profit. “We must bring awareness, education and acceptance for the world to change, and what better way than to start teaching this at a young age, so that they can be the change we need to see in the world. Our heart is full that Representative Hernandez understands that inclusion is a verb, not just a concept and worked with us to bring this bill to fruition.”
For more information, please contact Hernandez’s constituent services office at 630-270-1848 or at RepBarbaraHernandez@gmail.com.