We are pleased to announce that the Autism Society Texas is the winner of the Autism Society of America’s 2017 Affiliate of the Year Award and will receive the award at the National Conference in Milwaukee. CONGRATULATIONS!
The Autism Society Affiliate of the Year is awarded to an Autism Society affiliate that has effectively worked together to use its resources and members to positively influence the quality of life of individuals, parents, and professionals coping with autism in their community. The Autism Society of Texas has excelled in providing the five core services.
Autism Society of Texas advancements in the five core services:
Information and Referral (I&R) – they provide statewide I&R support and collaborate with national support center as needed. The El Paso Chapter offers face to face I&R, while the San Antonio team provides I&R over the phone, via email and on Facebook. The Statewide Office provides I&R using a comprehensive resource guide that is being transformed to an online resource directory so that families can access it 24/7.
Support – 2016 brought with it a 100% increase in face to face support groups and additions of multiple support groups to increase the different ages and genders. Online support has continued to support communities in rural areas.
Education and Training – Both have expanded exponentially since last year. New education programs include first responder program and video; they are working with many community partners to provide comprehensive autism training. Not only are they doing training in person, but are also offering training through Facebook Live to reach all parts of Texas.
Advocacy – Efforts have remarkably grown to create the Texas Autism Advocacy Alliance, a network of any autism or disability related advocate or organization who would collectively advocate for the autism community. It established priority areas and identified the top 5 areas to push as part of the 2017 legislative platform. The advocacy goals are based on bills, priority areas, communication and collaboration, and measured advocacy outcomes. This initiative was the biggest growth area of their organizational history. It resulted in legislation to license BCBA’s, address cyberbullying, and most importantly a bill to end the 8.5% cap that our TEA put into place years ago that put limits on the number of children in Texas who receive special education.
Community inclusion efforts include many programs, and collaborations with partners to offer monthly playdates, meetups, social groups, sensory friendly movies, special needs hours at gyms, children’s museums, and other recreational opportunities. Monthly meetings for multiple groups provide opportunities for families and individuals with autism to connect and be part of our community.
Texas is leading the way in advancing the 15 quality of life outcomes.
By addressing all ages and stages of autism, Texas is excelling. Through their programs, they strive to ensure that all Texans with autism are treated with dignity and that talents are valued for individuals living with autism.
Texas programs provide employment, social skills, and volunteer opportunities for adults with autism. There are new health and fitness programs, social connection and leisure activities. Communication and connection with the community is an ongoing effort with a vast array of initiatives. Texas is working on providing meaningful employment through Access-Austin and their fabulous Autism Friendly Businesses initiative.
The Autism Society Texas is an active partner with the national office and the affiliates. Texas engages with the national public policy group, provides support and leadership to other affiliates such as consulting to build capacity with the Alaska affiliate. Texas has aligned with the other two state affiliates, bringing them under their umbrella as chapters to coordinate and better serve Texans with autism.
They lead by example, sharing national’s messages via social media platforms and recently hosted the first National Autism Awareness Month Twitter chat and included all affiliates. They took the lead in creating other “firsts” and had shared all with affiliates and National. Also, they collaborate with Autism Speaks in Texas and nationally to address advocacy, events and resource development in Texas.
Your efforts are exemplary, and we celebrate your many successes! Congratulations!