SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - The Autism Program (TAP) of Illinois service network serves and supports individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families through coordinated network providers, parents and university programs.
April is World Autism Awareness Month, so to raise awareness and show support, TAP is giving out purple light bulbs to shine a light on autism in Illinois.
"We've almost given out a thousand light bulbs over the last two years, " explained Amy Martin, director.
TAP helps bring awareness about autism throughout the state of Illinois. The organization works along side 15 partners, four universities and a number of service centers across the state. TAP Director Amy Martin wants everyone to be aware of the growing numbers of autism.
"Currently it is 1 and 59 kids diagnosed with autism according to the CDC," said Martin.
The state funded group provides services across the state. Martin explained at the 15 partners things like screenings/diagnostics, applied behavior analysis therapy, social skills groups, support groups, family and community resource rooms, family services and education and training are available.
"We are servicing clients and we bring these screenings and diagnostics to a lot of individuals who wouldn't have the resources anywhere else," said Martin.
TAP's mission to raise awareness is to promote all services they provide, as well as inclusion.
In 2018, TAP was able to provide over 500 training opportunities and nearly 1,000 screen and diagnostic evaluations. Shannon Dyson works as the Quality Coordinator for TAP and explained it's very important for Illinoisans to understand the amount of work TAP does throughout the state.
"Some insurance plans don't cover some of the treatments that are considered the best approach to treating aspects of autism. It's really great that our state is able to have this grant to provide services to children that wouldn't have the opportunity," said Dyson.
TAP works to serve, but they also work to promote inclusion. Dyson and Martin both agreed since the number of children diagnosed with autism is increasing, now is the time to shine a light on autism.
"I encourage people to shine their light on autism, not only to acknowledge autism and the inclusion of everyone in our state, but also to represent The Autism Program of Illinois," explains Dyson.
Community members can still pick up purple light bulbs. Click here to find out where bulbs are available.