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Autism Alliance of Michigan showcases efforts on employment during April's Autism Awareness month

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DETROIT, March 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Adults with autism face a challenge almost no other population faces – a 90 percent unemployment rate – higher than rates for individuals with other developmental disabilities. Having a job is a crucial first step toward improved quality of life, social inclusion, friendships and independence.

DTE Energy

Throughout the month of April – proclaimed as Autism Awareness month - the Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM) is showcasing its work promoting the benefits adults with autism can bring employers, while increasing economic opportunities for this population.

"This month's heightened focus on Autism gives us a platform to further advance critical programs, including those focused on employment, with community leaders - business, civic and providers," said Colleen Allen, president and CEO of the Autism Alliance of Michigan. "This work not only impacts the lives of individuals with autism who will be able to lead independent lives, but also teaches us how to be a more open and accepting society."

To date, more than 2/3 of adult related concerns directed to the AAoM's MiNavigator service relate to challenges securing employment. MiNavigator, created to provide Michigan families affected by autism with professional case management services, has served over 750 families to date, 600 in 2015 alone in its inaugural year.

"Individuals with autism have the potential to contribute significant skills and talents to the workforce, but often they are not given the same opportunities many of us take for granted," said Dave Meador, vice chairman and chief administrative officer, DTE Energy. "With the right support structure – at home and in the workplace – impacted individuals can contribute significantly to the workforce and lead full, meaningful lives. We're focused on creating these opportunities for impacted individuals throughout Michigan and giving them the opportunity to maximize their potential."

DTE Energy is a long-time advocate for families and individuals impacted by autism, as is Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. As Lieutenant Governor, Calley has worked to increase access to autism services and promote inclusion in schools and communities for people with developmental differences.

"Autism Awareness Month is a time to remember how far we've come in recent years in improving access to autism services in Michigan," Calley said. "The Autism Alliance of Michigan provides great support to families trying to understand what resources are available to them. This month and all year round, let's celebrate the potential of Michiganders with autism and help them achieve their potential to live self-determined independent lives."

Both Calley and Meador have daughters on the autism spectrum and are tireless champions for high expectations and full inclusion. Their work spans early childhood diagnosis and access to therapies, to revamping special education in Michigan, safety initiatives, employment and housing.

Over nearly more than six years, AAoM's work has impacted and helped thousands of Michigan families in need of resources and support. To date, AAoM has worked to secure insurance coverage benefits covering autism at 66 self-funded Michigan companies; served more than 750 Michigan families through the MiNavigator resource, a network of autism care professionals available for therapy and other autism-related treatments; trained more than 13,000 first responders in safety procedures and responsive techniques; and developed a comprehensive directory of 800 Michigan-specific resources available to families seeking connections for critical services.

For more information about AAoM visit www.autismallianceofmichigan.org or call 248.436.5606.

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SOURCE DTE Energy

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