Autism is the fastest-growing childhood disorder in America and is now considered a public health crisis. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that causes significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an average of 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys) in the U.S has an ASD and the prevalence of autism increased 289.5% from 1997 to 2008. While it remains unclear how much of this increase is due to a broader definition of ASDs and better efforts in diagnosis, the CDC concludes that a true increase cannot be ruled out and any increase requires more health and education services. According to the New York State Department of Health, approximately 1% of the population of New York State (195,000 people) has an ASD and approximately 2,000 children will be diagnosed with an ASD this year in the State.
Upwards of 65% of QSAC consumers are from disenfranchised communities of color, often headed by single parent households living near or below the poverty line. This vulnerable population has well documented barriers to the diagnosis and care of individuals with autism by their families, including language limitations, mistrust of government, limited access to transportation, low awareness of treatment options, and shame of their children’s behavior, in addition to very limited out-of-pocket funds to support private education and care of adults with autism. At a time when waiting lists for QSAC services continue to grow, our nation’s deep recession has reduced government budgets and private contributions. QSAC takes pride in specializing in service to individuals with the most severe behavior problems, yet government contracts often fail to cover the high costs involved in providing comprehensive and safe services to this group.
QSAC has an overhead rate of 13%, and clean audits since it was founded 33 years ago. Funding for QSAC goes directly to individuals living with autism and their families in communities most in need.