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Calls to Action

Leading the Way: Autism-Friendly Youth Organizations

Unfortunately, boys and girls with autism often face barriers to participating fully in youth community organizations. And so with help from respected experts in the field of autism and special education, experienced parents and caregivers, we have created Leading the Way: Autism-Friendly Youth Organizations, a guide for organizations to ensure that youth with autism have the same formative experiences through community programs that are available to their typical peers.

The purpose of this guide is to better prepare community organizations to serve youth and families with autism. The information will help organizations learn to integrate youth with autism into existing programs, communicate with parents, and train their staff.

Click here to download Leading the Way: Autism-Friendly Youth Organizations Guide. You can also download individual sections at the links below:

About Autism: What You Need to Know
Inclusion: Leading the Way in Access for Everyone
Getting Started: Leading the Way to an Autism-Friendly Inclusive Environment
People and Places: Creating an Environment for Success
Strategies for Success: Supporting Learning and Growth in Youth with Autism

The Importance of Including Youth with Autism in Community Programs

In the video below, Dr. Lynn Koegel, Clinical Director of UCSB's Koegel Autism Center and Broad Asperger Center, discusses the importance of autism-friendly youth organizations. Dr. Koegel calls inclusion "a win-win for everyone!"

Youth Participation Survey

In 2012, Autism Speaks conducted a national survey on community youth organizations. More than 1,000 people responded from 48 states. Through this effort, we have learned more about the barriers youth with autism face in fully participating in these programs and have developed a better understanding of what would help organizations successfully include young people with autism.

Click here to read a blog post by Marianne Sullivan about the results of this interesting survey!

Family Services Community Grants Spotlight

The Autism Speaks Community Grants program has funded many grants that focus on inclusion. Examples include:

Autism Empowerment's Autism and Scouting Leadership Training Program
Funded in 2012
Autism Empowerment
This program provides motivational opportunities for adolescents with ASD to practice and gain appropriate social skills in natural settings with their typically developing peers. Click here to learn more!

Utilizing Motivational Variables to Develop a Model of Social Facilitation in the School Environment to Enhance Social Competence for Adolescents in ASD
Funded in 2010
UCSB Koegel Autism Center
This program seeks to train leaders in a variety of scouting venues, techniques and skills to effectively work with children and teens with autism and their families. Click here to learn more!

Click here to search the Autism Speaks Grants database to learn more about what we have funded!


Feds: Disabled students must get opportunity to play sports
On January 25, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced in a statement that schools must provide opportunities for disabled students to play sports.

Autism Speaks Resource Guide

The Autism Speaks Resource Guide contains over 50,000 local resources, including Autism Organizations, Recreation and Community Activities, After School Programs, Social Skills Groups, and more! All of these resources have been submitted to us by professionals involved with the organizations, or families who have had positive experiences. 

It is the largest most comprehensive autism database in the world and contains local services in all 50 states!

Click here to search for programs in your local area!