Autism Society records most keynote and concurrent sessions at their annual conferences. You can see and hear those recordings by purchasing full online access, or individual recordings.
Historically, the autism community has focused on the causes, cures, and controversies surrounding autism spectrum disorders, all worthy research pursuits. However, we feel strongly that community accessibility for children is critical for laying the foundation for successful community inclusion later in life. We feel that every year that a child is not in the community directly affects their developmental trajectory, as well as the trajectories of their families and our society as a whole. Although some efforts for community inclusion have been made sporadically in different geographic locations and community settings, no unified approach has been undertaken to date.
Community organizations have legal obligations to be accessible per the Americans with Disabilities Act. Frequently, however, guidelines developed pertain more to physical disabilities than neuro-developmental difficulties like autism.
Our multi-disciplinary group has begun a program for working with both families and community organizations to promote meaningful experiences for families affected by autism in the community. We feel that this is important as it is the right thing to do, it is the law, and it makes financial sense for organizations to be inclusive as families affected by autism comprise a large part of the market. We also feel that it is imperative for the future of these families and society. It is unrealistic to expect children with autism to wake up in their twenties and suddenly be independent, let alone employable, when they have not been adequately prepared and established a comfort level with community engagement.
Over the past several years, we have been working with families and community settings like museums, theaters, and airports to develop and refine strategies for meaningful community inclusion in an effort to create best practices for universal accessibility. This session will highlight the reasons behind our efforts, a conceptual framework for designing inclusive community programs, several of our specific strategies, and lessons learned in trying to build a bridge between families and community settings. Particular focus will be paid to the congressionally recognized autism airport accessibility program, and our efforts to launch a national implementation model.
Talk can be given alternatively in Spanish by Dr. Marquez.
Content Area: Life with Autism
Wendy J. Ross, M.D., FAAP
Founder, Autism Inclusion Resources
Autism Inclusion Resources
Rebecca B. Jackel, M.A.
Moss Rehab Hospital
Roger I. Ideishi, J.D., OT/L
Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy
University of the Sciences, Philadelphia
Yahaira I. Marquez, Ph.D.
Albert Einstein Medical Center