Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA) has launched AFAA Applauds, a national recognition initiative highlighting the most promising support programs in the U.S. for adults living with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). By spotlighting successful programs, AFAA plans to promote promising practices, innovative approaches and awareness about ASDs and adult concerns.
"With more than 500,000 children with ASDs entering adulthood this decade, individuals and families impacted by the disorder are searching for more answers," says Patricia Wright, Ph.D., MPH, Easter Seals National Director of Autism Services and AFAA Leadership Council Member,. "We are today with adult concerns where we were 20 years ago with early intervention," she added.
AFAA Applauds is designed to celebrate and encourage vocational, residential support and community life programs. Community life includes social skills, transportation, recreational, safety, spirituality or other categories of service that improve life experiences and outcomes for those living with autism.
"We must foster enterprising and results-oriented programs in cities and towns across the U.S. that respond to the critical needs of this maturing population. It's our collective responsibility to help increase their independence to the greatest degree possible and give individuals living with autism a chance to succeed at every age," says Peter H. Bell, parent of a young adult with autism and Autism Speaks, Executive Vice President of Programs and Services, who also serves as an AFAA Leadership Council Member.
Applications for AFAA Applauds will be reviewed by an expert panel. Up to six finalists will be selected with each finalist receiving up to a $5,000 grant for the development of a video and expanded program description to be developed according to AFAA guidelines and distributed on the AFAA website and other channels. Application criteria can be found online. Submission deadline is November 16, 2012.
AFAA is a national consortium of organizations working together to promote a collaborative spirit in the autism community and develop both public and private sector support that improve the lives of adults living with autism. The organization is led by the vision of individuals with autism and their families. It aims to create and drive public policy change that will support adults with ASDs to become fully participating members of their communities, lead a national dialogue to increase awareness of the challenges and opportunities for adults with autism, serve as a portal of information on research, programs and services, and to act as a catalyst in developing strategies and coordinating efforts to improve the quality of services and supports for adults with autism and their families.