Three months ago, a reporter from a city served by an Autism Society affiliate interviewed me for a news article about autism. Following our conversation, he revealed that his son recently received an autism diagnosis. As I do whenever anyone discloses a connection to autism, I encouraged him to get involved with his local Autism Society affiliate. We talked for a few more minutes and he went on to discuss the difficulty he faced obtaining information about how he and his wife could best help their son. He then said something that, unfortunately, I hear far too often. He noted that as he tried to learn more about autism and how to be the best parent possible for his son, the differing perspectives from one agency to the next confused him. All he wanted was for someone to tell him and his wife exactly what to do to help their son. I suggested that they get involved with the local Autism Society affiliate, and once he did, to give me a call in two months.

Well, two months came and I never got his call. I figured he either didn’t talk with his local Autism Society, lost my phone number, or decided to seek help elsewhere. More time passed, then lo and behold, in early January, I got that phone call from the reporter. He connected with the local Autism Society affiliate as I recommended and knew instantly that he had a friend in the organization. He shared that he and his wife recently attended a support program with other parents and realized that the Autism Society was a community of families, people with autism, professionals and many others who were there to help. Although he initially wanted someone to tell him exactly what to do, he later realized that each person with autism is unique and requires unique services and supports. He left his first support group meeting feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted because he now knew where to go for help. This wonderful dad then said something that made my day; he wished more parents and individuals with autism knew to turn to the Autism Society when seeking support and a guiding light.

Throughout our nation, local and state Autism Society affiliates are working each day to help thousands, including supporting this man, his wife, and child. In addition to Autism Society affiliates, our national office maintains call center staffed by highly trained, compassionate professionals ready to lend a hand. My heart smiles each time I visit an Autism Society affiliate and meet the amazing families who benefit from our nationwide network of support. From Fairbanks, Alaska to Tucson, Arizona, from Maine to the Sunshine State, the Autism Society is there to help!

If you haven’t yet reached out your local or state Autism Society, do so. It is the best way to join a community of caring and responsive parents, individuals, professionals who want life’s full opportunities for each autistic individuals and to live in a nation where each person with autism is respected, valued, and provided the highest level of dignity.

For more information on where to find your local Autism Society affiliate or to reach Autism Source™, the Autism Society’s National Contact Center, go to www.autism-society.org.