Remarks to Spokane City Council
ASW Remarks to the Spokane City Council, April 11, 2011 and Spokane District 81 School Board
My name is Gerriann Armstrong, parent of a child at Whitman
Elementary in Northeast Spokane. Thank you for the opportunity to
address the School Board Tonight on behalf of The Autism Society of
Washington, Spokane Chapter
According to the 2010 US Census there are over 208,000 people living
in the City of Spokane and of those approximately 30,000 are school age
children enrolled in Spokane Public Schools. Using the statistic
that 1 in 110 children have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders
including Aspergers, PDD-NOS, and Rhetts Syndrome, that means that
there are at least 300 children in school right now who will be 300
Adults with ASD needing fair market and subsidized permanent Housing,
Livable Wage Employment, medical & dental coverage, and recreational
Besides being Autism Awareness Month April is also Child Abuse
Awareness Month with the community slogan of “:Our Kids: Our Business”, their
logo is the colorful pinwheel to be found all over town and on the Today
Section of our local newspaper.
Five years ago when the community adopted this campaign I remember
sitting in the hallway of St. Luke’s Outpatient Children’s Therapy
Services in tears because I was calling everyone I could think of to help our
family to figure out what to do next. I was working full-time being
called just about daily from the daycare to come and pick up my son.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard the statement, “Your doing a
great job, its just going to take time.” Finally someone shared that
there is a Preschool Program thru the School District and that we needed to
just open that door to get some help. I will say that our personal
experience with the 3-6 year old pre-school program through Spokane Public Schools was
positive and life changing for us. One in which we recommend to each
new family we meet who joins us on the Autism Spectrum Journey.
So, This year we are bring you puzzle piece themed pinwheels to
represent our children. The pinwheels are made with love by my family.
The tattered and frayed edges of the fabric pinwheel shows the ease
in which everything that has been accomplished can be unraveled with
just a little ruffling. The pin wheels do not spin because many parents
feel stuck in a no win situation waiting for diagnostic and private
therapy services that are not available for 8 to 18 months, co-pays
and deductibles that only seem to increase for medical treatment and
private therapy that never seem to end and that does not even include the
hours that are spent developing an Individualized Education Plan that
takes an entire new language to be learned to understand and implemented. For
many of us our pinwheels got stuck in toddlerhood as many of our
friends pinwheels keep moving and growing further away from us leaving us
feeling alone and helpless.
My son’s pinwheel is starting to spin again however it is a little
lopsided, and it takes us a little longer to get it going in the wind
but it is moving with the help of those around us who see my son as a
unique person worthy of their friendships and parents willing to keep
blowing wind at his pinwheel until it moves faster and faster.
We are asking you to join us in making our community an accepting and
a better place for individuals and families who live with ASD , to
attend recreational opportunities like our young adult coffee group
or our recreation group for school age children with ASD,, volunteer
your time to assist families, take time to listen to our stories, and
make decisions in your leadership roles that truly impact the future
for all children including those 300 with ASD in the Spokane Public
School System who will be adults one day soon.
It really is up to us now as to how independent they will be in the