April 3, 2020
Autism Awareness
Jodie Leister LPCC-S, CEAP

Having been involved in the field of mental health for the last 22 years, I have been asked many times “what made you get into this?” The answers varied in context depending on if I was 15, 25, or 35, but the overall theme was always “I want to help people.” With all the different roles I played and people I got the opportunity to know, the one role I miss the most and think about so fondly is getting to be a behavior therapist for children with exceptionalities. 

I started off my work in that specific area at 23 as a “Special Needs Instructional Assistant” with Columbus City Schools. I loved working with the youth and knew it was something I wanted to do more of. After a year, I started working also as an in-home behavior therapist providing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to children on the Autism spectrum. My interest grew and I grew in my roles but I always went back to the one on one sessions with my kiddos. Some of the greatest joys of my life are shared with the families I got to work with and I learned so much about myself and the world then. My experience brings me a lot of perspective these days also with the people I continue to help in the EAP. Central Ohio continues to offer a multitude of resources for individuals on the Autism spectrum and their families and I’m glad to have been a part of that.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of when the Autism Society of America “launched an ongoing nationwide effort to promote autism awareness and assure that all affected by autism are able to achieve the highest quality of life possible.  In 1972, the Autism Society launched the first annual National Autistic Children’s week, which evolved into National Autism Awareness Month (NAAM). This April, [they] continue [their] efforts to spread awareness, promote acceptance, and ignite change.” As of 2020, 1 in 59 children has been identified with an 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, and is about four times more common among boys than among girls.

The OSU Health Plan is here to support its members and provides a robust resource for those that are in need. Please learn about your benefits and how to get the support and care your family deserves. Don’t forget to Light It Up Blue this April.