An advocate is a person that works publicly to inspire and obtain social change pertaining to important issues. In many cases, advocates for autism spectrum disorder are devoted parents with children that have been affected by the disorder. During the 1970’s through the 1980’s, it was estimated that 1 in every 2,000 children was born with autism. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 1 in every 150 children, leaving and researchers and medical professionals unclear as to why.. It’s now more important than ever for advocates to help raise awareness about autism spectrum disorder, where to find treatment, how to effectively manage it and work to stop the stigmas associated with it.
There are several ways people can become a better advocate for autism spectrum disorder. If you’re a professional that frequently works with individuals on the autism spectrum, such as a psychiatrist or behavioral therapist, you are considered to be a professional advocate. If your child has autism spectrum disorder and you wish to advocate on your own, you are considered to be a lay advocate. The first step a lay advocate should take is to network and find support groups in your area for autism spectrum disorder. One of the first places to look is for local NAMI support groups found here.
NAMI members are very well connected in the mental health sphere. AutismSpeaks.org also provides an excellent resource guide for people looking to become more involved with autism related groups in a variety of ways. The guide provides employment opportunity information for people with autism, residential and day treatment programs for autism, guardianship, camps and services for autistic youth that are transitioning to adults.
You might also participate in supporting other local autism advocates and their speaking engagements, join local advisory councils or even join a local autism board. After becoming more active with these groups and forming a solid base of knowledge and connections, you can help spread the word about your activities with your friends on social media. With time, you’ll feel more comfortable about speaking publicly at autism-related rallies, going to town hall meetings or reaching out to local politicians about mental health legislation. In 2015, the federal government passed the 2015 Autism CARES Act, which will dedicate more than $3 billion in funding for autism research and services through 2019. Without advocacy, the Autism CARES Act would have never been passed.
During your downtime, it would also be important to extensively study about Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Advocates should strive to become experts in all aspects of autism to support effective efforts. A few of the best online resources with articles about autism spectrum disorders include:
Pasadena Villa utilizes a variety of evidence-based treatment methods that are effective in helping adults with autism spectrum disorder hone their social skills and prepare for life after treatment. Our most notable treatment programs for autism spectrum disorder include social integration therapy which follows our trademarked Social Integration Model, art therapy, integrated community therapy and animal-assisted therapy. We currently offer treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina. If you’re interested in learning more about these programs or have questions about our enrollment process, please call our admissions office at 877-845-5235 or fill out our contact form. We will work with most major insurance providers and give our clients the option to pay privately.