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Students with Autism Making Strides in Washington School District

Washington Special Education Director Camilla Justice shared, “If you have met one person with Autism, you have met one person with Autism, because no two Autistic people are exactly the same and each person brings a unique set of talents to the table. “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition involving persistent challenges with social communication, restricted interests, and repetitive behavior. While Autism is considered a lifelong disorder, the degree of impairment in functioning because of these challenges, varies between individuals with Autism.” According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, “About 1 in 36 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. ASD is nearly 4 times more common among boys than among girls.” The Autistic community has advocated to make each April “Autism Acceptance and Advocacy Month,” choosing the color RED to be their representation, showing the “fire and passion” of the Autistic community. While the historical puzzle piece was a symbol representing the diversity of individuals with Autism and their families, in 2018, research was done and replaced the piece with a rainbow-colored infinity symbol to represent a spectrum, diversity, and difference. Two classes in the Park School offer Autism support – one taught by Mrs. VanTine and one by Mrs. Tonti with several paraprofessionals assisting in each room. Both teachers had several students featured for special feature articles (two separate stories are on the school website featuring the students for Autism awareness). To further enhance support and acceptance for those with Autism, a secondary Autistic Support classroom will be added to the Jr/Sr High in fall 2023, making the continuum for students with Autism grades K-12 in the district. To learn more about autism, check out the Autism Society of PA website at or for specific questions about classes in the district, contact Camilla Justice, Special Education Director by email at or call her at 724- 223-5055

Posted : May 2023