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Autism Activists Oppose State's Plan To Cut Classroom Program

 (CBS) -- Despite the skyrocketing autism numbers, the state is getting ready to cut a program that helps children succeed in the classroom.

CBS 2's Dana Kozlov takes a look at what it is and who's fighting to save it.

Christopher Jorwic found his voice through a computer and keyboard.

He has autism. His family credits the Illinois State Board of Education's IATTAP program with helping him thrive.

"It helped him concentrate a lot better and to control his noises in class," father Lee Jorwic says.

Their gratitude is why they're fighting to save the program, which the state Board of Education now plans to eliminate. It helps train teachers and families on how to transition and educate children with autism in a  general education classroom.

Elmhurst special education facilitator Kris Bretl says she see the program's positive impact every day.

Autism activists say the board wants to move the program's $100,000 in state dollars into a general education fund. That, they say, would be a mistake.

"This program goes out and teaches schools to provide inclusion," says Mary Kay Betz, executive director of the Autism Society of Illinois.

Lee Jorwic argues that autism is a "tsunami" that's getting ready to hit the school system. "It has to dealt with," he says.

A spokesperson for the state board of education defends the move, saying it's a way to expand access to special education training statewide. But opponents say there will no longer be an autism-specific component.

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