On Monday night in Atlanta, a small group of parents gathered for a casual roundtable-style discussion with Alycia Halladay, Autism Speaks senior director, environmental and clinical sciences. A total of seven parents of children with autism of varying in ages shared their stories and voiced their concerns for the future of their child.
One mother with a 20-year old adult son spoke about her need for more housing options and more services for adults with autism beyond the age of 22. Her concerns were similar to the results found in Autism Speaks National Housing and Residential Supports Survey, which Dr. Halladay addressed and noted that this is a priority for the organization to generate more awareness and better educate families on housing options so they can prepare at an earlier age for adulthood.
Two mothers, one with a seven year-old and another with a 12-year old, shared a very similar experience about their child’s first diagnosis and how their pediatrician each told them they were overreacting about their child’s development. Meanwhile, parents of adults and teens compared their experience and how there was very little to no awareness about autism and got the run around from pediatricians.
Other topics include autism insurance reform, which currently has not passed in Georgia. Education was also a major concern for families and the difficulty of navigating schools with fully implemented autism programs and conducting effective IEPs. Parents brought up the need for more localized resources to help families with education options.
Autism Speaks with Families aims to provide an open discussion for parents to address topics and concerns they want to share. Stay tuned for an event near you.