Easter Seals, the 88-year-old advocacy and social services organization for people with developmental disabilities, has formed a partnership with the Autism Society of America to improve access to and delivery of local autism services and treatments. The two groups announced the partnership today at the Autism Society's annual conference in Phoenix. You can read a press release here.
The two non-profits said they "plan to pilot programs and initiatives that will help improve the lives of individuals living with autism." In addition to improving access and delivery of autism services, the groups identified three additional focus areas:
* Information sharing. Plans call for establishing an international network of autism services organizations so they can share knowledge, information about best practices and effective treatments.
* Conferences. The groups said they would co-sponsor "a series of research-based consensus conferences" about positive outcomes for people with autism.
* Autism awareness. They plan to work to "increase awareness and understanding of the needs of the autism community."
Leaders of the groups issued statements suggesting the announcement today was the start of a long-term relationship with broad ambitions.
James E. Williams Jr., Easter Seals president and CEO said: "It is a beginning -- our partnership as ASA and Easter Seals. Our job is to provide effective treatment and services to families in communities across the country. But it will take more than our village. To truly address the needs of children and adults living with autism, we must engage the autism community at large -- government, our corporate sector, and our communities working together to assure that everyone living with autism is accepted, and has the very best chance to live, learn, work and play in our communities."
Lee Grossman, president and CEO of the Autism Society, said the groups had been discussing a partnership for more than a year. He emphasized that it should be judged on results: "By far the most important feature of this partnership is how we are measuring its success. If we succeed, more people with autism and the people who live with them, and the people who treat them, will receive the services and supports they deserve. In a generation, autism will be an accepted, and honored, part of the human condition."