Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autism Society - Working Group Update: Community Engagement

Working Group Update: Community Engagement

September 20, 2012
By Autism Society

In July 2012, the Autism Society assembled educators, professionals, chapter leaders, self advocates and others of different backgrounds and experiences to address some of the most pressing issues facing those with autism. Working groups met at the Autism Society National Conference to focus on the topics of bullying, quality of life, employment, equal access to screening and early intervention; community collaboration and college programs for students with autism. We will keep you updated on how these groups progress in each issue of our e-newsletter.

This week, updates from the groups addressing community collaboration and inclusion: 

Community Collaboration:

The Collaboration Working Group was comprised of Autism Society chapter leaders, individuals from the Panel of Professional Advisors and other professionals. The group attendees discussed a variety of ideas relating to fundraising, community outreach and advocacy. Each attendee highlighted one of his organization’s most successful elements, explaining how the program was developed, implemented and supported.  The Collaboration Workgroup discussed a variety of concepts for a framework that would support chapters in creating successful outreach programs and developing positive connections among each other and their communities.

Inclusion (equal access to screening and early intervention):

Nearly 40 individuals representing many organizations and efforts gathered for an afternoon discussion on how to best include underserved individuals and families throughout the autism service network. Specific attention as given to how approaches and efforts must be advanced to reach out effectively within minority, ethnic and non-English speaking communities so that individuals and families in these valued communities will reach out and trust the important work and efforts of autism organizations, such as the Autism Society. The very important discussion that occurred that afternoon resulted in the group examining ways we can increase inclusion as well as assessing ways that we now use that are just not effective. The goal is to assure that every individual and family in need of assistance and support is provided an effective opportunity to have their needs addressed and support provided. Efforts at getting children showing signs of autism who live in minority, ethnic and non- English speaking communities to access diagnosis programs by age three will likely be a critical first step in the group’s efforts.

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