The Autism Response Team (ART) offers help and resources at your fingertipsDecember 2, 2021
Searching for information and resources about autism can be overwhelming, especially for people navigating a new diagnosis. Here at Autism Speaks, one of our top mission priorities is to be the place you can turn to find reliable information and services throughout the life span.
Our Autism Response Team (ART) is essential to this work, offering direct assistance—in both English and Spanish—to over 535,000 constituents at every life stage and level of need via phone, email, or chat. We’re proud to report that in the past year alone, ART has helped more than 75,000 people access the personalized guidance and referrals they need to live happy, successful lives.
And the work doesn’t stop there. In this Q&A, Andrew Nelson, director of the Autism Response Team, discusses ART’s greatest achievements of the year and the team’s hopes to make an ever-greater impact on our community.
Contact ART today:
En Español: 1-888-772-9050
Can you share a story of a time when ART helped make a difference in the life of a community member?
One of the most amazing aspects of this work is hearing back from those who reach out to us. We hear from constituents on a daily basis with testimonials that inspire and drive our team. The vastness of information about autism can be daunting, but many constituents share how ART helped them narrow and focus that search and even find community they did not know existed.
Recently, one person sent us this wonderful message: “You have been absolutely incredible. I’m excited to dive into all of this information. I deeply appreciate all of the resources you have supplied me with and the guidance you have given me. Thank you, thank you for caring about my son’s future. You have helped and guided me more in a few days than I have received over 9 months.”
Another constituent expressed challenges their child was facing with discrimination as an autistic person of color. The family felt alone. We were able to share with them several local and national organizations whose mission is to support people of color with autism and encouraged them to explore books and articles on the topic. The parent wrote back to express the importance of knowing they had a community to connect to, their gratitude that resources were available, and how their life had been changed through their connection with ART.
What are ART’s proudest moments and biggest accomplishments of 2021?
We built a strong team of ART associates across the country that now includes four Spanish-speaking bilingual staff. As a result, the level and quality of our supports for the Spanish-speaking community are growing every day.
ART also invested focused time and energy in essential training needed to prepare our team for the unique needs that our constituents bring to us each day. We have successfully adapted to the unique challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic and continue to have 5,000+ interactions with our constituents each month using remote technology.
How has ART’s work grown and evolved in the past year?
We have improved our internal database and resource collection process to make it easier to access and share local, specific information with our constituents in real time. We have also provided live support during national and regional webinars and events to help constituents find resources and services in their area.
Do you have any data that shows ART’s impact on the autism community?
ART is on target to complete 80,000+ interactions this year. We have seen a significant increase in the number of autistic adults reaching out to us on a daily basis, including those seeking information about a new diagnosis or local supports and resources.
As you look ahead to the new year, how do you plan to make ART an even more important resource for our constituents? What are your key goals?
We want to make the constituent experience the best it can be when someone takes the time and effort to reach out to us. We will be making upgrades to our systems to ensure people have the most user-friendly phone, chat, and email experience possible.
Additionally, ART will continue to expand our supports for the Spanish-speaking community. We also want to work hard to locate key resources in states and localities where support can be harder to find to make sure constituents across the country can find the help they need.