April is Autism Awareness Month.

As usual, both the Autism Society of Oregon and the Northwest Autism Foundation will be involved in fund and awareness raising as Spring unfolds. Click on the highlighted copy above for a full schedule of events, including a very fun walk at Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood on Sunday, April 17, 2016.

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Autism Walk 2014. Photo by Robert Parish.

Jonathan Chase, who we’ve featured on these pages in the past, is a board member of the Autism Society of Oregon as well as a local musician, advocate, youth mentor and author.

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Jonathan Chase. Photo by Robert Parish.

Jonathan’s latest project, which is approaching a Kickstarter fundraising deadline, is a book he’s written for teachers entitled Accommodations for Students on Spectrum in Your Classroom. With funding, he hopes to publish the book and roll it out to a national audience of educators in the Fall of 2016.

In his Kickstarter pitch, Jonathan writes: “I believe that my book can help a lot of people and reach students like me, who are capable but need the right environment to succeed. I think that we can make a real difference with this project and reach many teachers who are ready to make their classrooms more inclusive and just need the right guide to show them how. I would not be asking for your help if I didn’t believe this would make a difference.”

Educating students with an Autism Spectrum difference is increasingly becoming a priority in the Northwest and beyond. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 19.3 percent of people with disabilities in the U.S. were participating in the labor force – working or seeking work. Of those, 12.9 percent were unemployed, meaning only 16.8 percent of the population with disabilities was employed. (By contrast, 69.3 percent of people without disabilities were in the labor force, and 65 percent of the population without disabilities was employed.)

Organizations like the Autism Society of Oregon and the Northwest Autism Foundation, and activists like Jonathan Chase are doing there best to make a positive impact on the bureau’s shockingly low numbers.