The Autism Society's selection is interesting because of its timing. The media coverage and much scientific research are focusing on the very young, and it's easy to understand why: the rising caseload and unexpected prevalence of autism spectrum disorder diagnoses is prompting a lot of attention and many questions. But the focus on young children and their development shouldn't cast a total eclipse over the need for ongoing supports for these children when they grow up -- and for those already grown.
In a statement on NARPA's website, the group lays out five strategic goals for adult residential programs which demonstrate the broad range of serious issues that need addressing. These goals include:
1. Quality assurance and improvement: "Establishing health and welfare safeguards that balance personal security with individual freedom and choice," along with systematic assessments of service provider performance and quality improvement.
2. Building a community infrastructure that provides not only individual case managers, but also allows for the development of new options for individuals and their families.
3. Building capabilities, service delivery models and service provider capacity, to handle a very complex population, including people who have autism and another disability, and extend to those who have committed crimes or dangerous acts.
4. Developing a skilled workforce to support these residential facilities. This includes providing training, better benefits and other efforts to fight high turnover rates and staff vacancies.
5. Developing "responsive financial systems and strategies" to pay for these services.
It will be interesting to check on the NARPAA's progress in the future as they work on this list of goals that represents a collection of serious concerns.
In addition to NARPAA, the Autism Society is honoring Temple Grandin, author and animal expert, advocates Denise Resnik and Jim Adams
Read the full news release related to the Autism Society's conference this week by clicking here.