A new informational book about Autism … A New Word in Our Vocabulary and The 35 Year History of the Autism Society of Iowa has just been published. The author is Clarice Burkgren, a La Porte City resident and former teacher since 1965, and whose daughter Beth was diagnosed in 1975 as autistic. Clarice felt the world of autism, from its discovery in 1943 until it became more widely known here in Iowa in 1975, needed to be included in this story.
With the inception of special education for all handicapped children, ages 3 to 21 in 1975, there weren’t many identified as autistic in those early days and teachers knew little of how to best educate them. The Burkgrens’ daughter, Beth, was able to start her education program in 1975 at the age of three because of those very changes in the law.
Their experiences led them to seek out other parents and ultimately, become charter members of the Iowa Society for Autistic Children (IaSAC)when it was formed in 1978 and became an affiliate with the National Society for Autistic Children. The name was changed to Autism Society of Iowa (ASI) in 1987. The Burkgrens continued to serve as board members, officers, and committee members until their retirement in 2013.
Burkgrens’ book includes a comprehensive review of the events that make up the early history of the IaSAC and ASI, from the unique perspective of parents who were actively involved in the organizations’ growth and development. Over the past 35 years, what is known about autism has changed dramatically, and Clarice’s book documents the remarkable the progress made by ASI over the years, including numerous programs spearheaded both by parents and professionals. Many of the programs and services available today came about because of their pioneering work, and Clarice writes about the vital need for parents to continue their involvement and advocacy on behalf of their children.
She also shares personal experiences that serve as powerful examples that remind parents they are not alone in their efforts to find appropriate services for children living with autism.
Copies of Autism: A New Word in our Vocabulary are still available for $13 and may be purchased by calling 319-342-3394. For books that cannot be picked up locally, please add $7 for shipping and handling.