The Denver autism community came together last evening to tackle some of the critical issues facing many autism on the autism spectrum at the third in Autism Speaks' series of Town Halls on Adult Services.
"Many adults with autism have left secure and mandated school based services and now are in need of new services that support them in living meaningful lives in their community," said Marianne Sullivan, Autism Speaks managing director of programs and services in the West region in her welcome speech. "However, as we all know, there are inadequate services and little funding to create what is needed. We are here to have a conversation about various issues that adults with autism and other developmental disabilities currently face."
The panel discussion centered on housing and community living resources. The panel began by talking about various options for housing models for adults with autism and other developmental disabilities and then focused on how to create solutions to the lack of services available in the Denver community. The panelists invited participants to become vocal advocates and work together to address the problem.
As a parent of an adult with autism, panelist Harriett Austin shared how difficult it has been to get her child through early intervention, the school age years and on to adulthood. "Research tells us that even though we may feel exhausted, this is the most critical transition for our children," she said. "This is the one that will have the biggest impact on living their lives to the fullest extent possible."
Moderator Tracy Price Johnson said, “The fact that this community is here tonight is a wonderful testament about your commitment to be a part of this vital endeavor.” Participants were welcome to ask questions and encouraged to voice their ideas.
Coffee was provided by Dirt Coffee Bar, a non-profit organization whose mission is to train, employ and empower young adults affected by autism.
Panelists included Autism Speaks board member and Extreme Sports Camp president Sallie Bernard; Family Services Committee member, self-advocate and director of the Autistic Global Initiative Valerie Paradiz, PhD; discipline director of Family and Consumer Support Tracy Price-Johnson; autism parent and senior director of Advocacy Programs at The Arc - Jefferson, Clear Creek and Gilpin Harriet Austin, PhD; and executive director of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council Marcia Tewell.