Autism Spotlight

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced results of its biannual review of the incidence rate of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States. According to the latest analysis, the prevalence rate jumped to 1 in 59, up from 1 in 68. The Autism Society responded by calling for greater focus on reducing wait lists for services, transition planning, improving job readiness resources, and increasing home and community-based supports and services. The Autism Society also specifically asks Congress to reauthorize the Autism CARES Act (P.L. 113-157) that will expire in 2019 if no action is taken.

To help get more Members of Congress to commit to doing more, we would like your help urging them to join the bipartisan Autism Caucus. This will also help us get support for the reauthorization of the Autism CARES Act. The law's champions are preparing a draft bill for introduction as soon as next week.

Take Action: Ask your Member of Congress to join the bipartisan, bicameral Autism Caucus. Established in 2001, the Congressional Autism Caucus works to raise awareness about autism, provide a forum for policy discussions, promote research funding and develop legislative solutions to ease the burden of families affected by autism. View a current committee roster here

Please contact your Senators and Representatives today and urge them to join the Autism Caucus. Policymakers must come together to ensure each person with autism is provided with every opportunity to reach their maximum potential and achieve the highest quality of life.

If you get a commitment from your Member to join the caucus, please let us know by emailing Kim Musheno at


For teens with autism, behavioral issues boost risk of police run-ins


GM Pilot Program Hires Autistic Individuals

When Natasha Barber, senior buyer for GRM Scrap Sales, became active in the autism community, she didn’t anticipate that her passion would effect change at her workplace. Autism is a complex brain development disorder that can impact social interaction and verbal communication. Inspired by her autistic son, Natasha began a safety blog called Autism Moms Know Safety to help parents keep their autistic children safe. Last year she received a message from one of her followers that another automotive company piloted an employment program to hire individuals with autism. In the fall of 2016, Natasha began a journey to bring the pilot to GM.

“As a parent of an autistic child and GM employee, I immediately felt a call to action,” said Natasha. “General Motors is an amazing company with so many possibilities. I wanted to help bring this untapped talent to GM.” The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center estimates that one in 68 U.S. children is diagnosed with autism and 90 percent of adults who are affected by autism are unemployed.

Natasha approached Steve Kiefer, senior vice president of GPSC, with the idea after one of his all-people meetings. He loved the idea and her passion. Natasha was paired with Michael Rhadigan, HR business partner, to bring the program to the GPSC organization. In January, the DEMAND program — Driving Employment to Meet Automotive Needs through Diversity — was launched in partnership with the nonprofit Autism Alliance of Michigan.

Three new full-time positions were filled with employees screened and recommended by the Autism Alliance. The Alliance trains managers and co-workers who directly interact with the new employees and helps the new employees with onboarding and job training.

“This pilot helps expand our ability to find and recruit qualified, diverse talent from a new resource pool,” said Ken Barrett, global chief diversity officer. “Aligning their unique skill sets within an inclusive environment should help these GM employees blossom.”

The DEMAND program supports General Motors’ goal to be a good corporate citizen and allows GM to leverage culture change for a diverse, inclusive workforce. And there is no better time to recognize this program as GM celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month. GM benefits from employees with talent, enthusiasm and dedication to their jobs and these individuals get a chance to be employed, independent and successful.

For more information on the DEMAND program, or if you or your teams are interested in participating, please contact or

If you want to discuss potential job opportunities for an acquaintance, please reach out to Autism Alliance of Michigan at or 877-463-2266.

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St. John Providence Supporting AS-MSC

March, 2016

Ken Lawrence works in the IT department.  He suggested that his department  office weight loss challenge benefit the AS-MSC.

"Although it is not a new one, it is the reason we chose the Macomb Autism Society to benefit from our challenge. My daughter Julia - pictured center - has been autistic her entire life. She is about to turn 18 and is still mostly non-verbal. Also in the picture are my wife Lori, my mother in law Lea Ann, and my sons Trevor (center) and Dylan (left).

I was touched when my coworkers chose the Macomb ASA as a beneficiary of our weight loss challenge.  As for how the 2016 weight loss challenge and how did it go, out of 11 people who participated, I finished in 3rd place with 8.6% total weight loss. The 11 people combined lost a total of 125 pounds."

Thank you for helping Spread Awareness Ken!