About the autistic society
who we are
For 58 years and more, the Autism Society, including our national network of member organizations, has connected people to the resources they need through education, advocacy, support, information and referrals, and community programs.
Mission & Vision
We create connections and give everyone in the autism community the resources they need to live fully.
Creating a world where everyone in the autism community is connected to the support they need, when they need it.
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where the value and self-determination of each individual are preserved.
where everyone with autism can have the best possible quality of life.
where every person is integrated into society without barriers or exceptions in a collaborative environment.
where everyone is respected for their unique and individual differences.
where we conduct ourselves with honor, truth and respect in our thoughts, words and deeds.
The Autism Society strives to empower people with autism and their families to make informed decisions when planning and delivering evidence-based, individualized services and support.Each individual and family has the right to choose the services that best meet their individual needs.
make informed decisions
The Board of Directors of the Autism Society states that each person who experiences autism is a unique individual. As far as possible, informed decisions should be made by the person with autism and their family members in partnership with a multidisciplinary team.
Selection of current evidence-based intervention practices should be guided by objective assessments, goals, and outcomes. Services and support must be reliably provided by qualified and properly trained professionals. All services must promote self-determination, increase inclusive community participation and lead to a better quality of life. Abuse of any kind is not acceptable.
No single service or intervention is able to meet the needs of every individual with autism. Every person should have broad and equal access to quality, personalized support and services. The selection of a program, service, or method of intervention should be based on a comprehensive assessment of the person's abilities, needs, and interests. Services should be results-oriented to ensure they meet the individual goals of the person with autism.
The Board of Directors of the Autism Society hopes that people with autism lead dignified and productive lives and reach their full potential through access to proper education, employment, community life opportunities, health care, mental health services and family support.
Guiding principles for the selection of interventions and therapies
As the number of people diagnosed with autism has increased, so have medical, educational, and clinical opportunities. When families, professionals, and individuals with autism make informed decisions about clinical and therapeutic options, they often find the choices complex and confusing.
The sheer volume of information available on the internet, social media, and news media highlighting stories of the success of proven and unproven treatments makes these decisions even more difficult. In response, we have developed the following guiding principles for those who need to make a choice from the wide array of service and support options available to them.
- The Autism Society recognizes the wide diversity of the autism experience in terms of lifelong needs and support. This makes it clear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to meeting the needs and goals of all people with autism.
- A wide range of therapies, support and services should be equally available to all people with autism. Professionals must be proactive to ensure that all people with autism receive effective interventions without discrimination and regardless of where they live, race/ethnicity, economic conditions, or other factors that might limit equal access.
- Individuals with autism and their families should critically evaluate information and services featured on various websites. To get a balanced perspective, make sure the information comes from objective sources, including the Autism Society and its affiliates. Keep in mind that those who offer multiple services may genuinely want to help your child but may have additional reasons to discontinue your business.
- Persons with autism and their families should be treated as equal partners in treatment. Family members and individuals should understand the process for developing and approving any intervention and therapy or clinical treatment plan. Parents and individuals should be encouraged to ask questions and request detailed explanations, and to refuse any interventions they feel may be harmful.
- Individuals with autism and their families must weigh the impact of selected services and support throughout the family on a variety of dimensions, including appropriateness to family structure, time commitment, safety risk, financial impact, and other important factors. Individuals with autism and their family members know themselves, their children and their family's needs best. They are the ultimate decision-makers regarding medical, mental health, educational, occupational, and other person-centered care and services.
- Individuals with autism and their families should never hesitate to ask questions about the provider offering services, including licenses, certifications, prior experience, and documented expertise. These should come from professional and independent sources.
- Individuals with autism and their families should expect clear communication of progress, which is usually documented by data. All professionals should present data in a format that is understandable and shows improvement.
- Treatment providers must respect the dignity of the person with autism. Treatments should never be demeaning, embarrassing or aversive. Individuals with autism and their families should never hesitate to question practices that they do not understand or that bother them. Effective professionals are those who are able to build positive relationships with individuals with autism and their families. People with autism and their families must be willing to end work relationships when they are harmful or unproductive.
- All providers must recognize and respect the unique perspectives of people with autism and their families. Recommendations are best made in an informative and respectful manner. People with autism and their families should never feel pressured, intimidated, or manipulated by professionals.
- Any vendors who make grandiose promises of results or "cures" should be viewed with caution and questioned about the scientific data that supports their claims. In making these decisions, individuals with autism and their families should never hesitate to contact neutral parties or associated leaders of the Autism Society. It is also appropriate to speak to others who have used the services in question.
- All providers must communicate in words and language that can be easily understood by people with autism and their families. If you don't understand what the pros are saying, don't be afraid to ask the provider to explain it more simply.
- Recommendations for interventions should be based on the best available scientific evidence. Medical and educational therapies use different types of research to determine effectiveness. See resources below on evaluating research and acknowledging evidence-based practices.
- Medical treatments require data from clinical trials for prescription drugs to ensure safety. A general practitioner should be consulted when considering alternative treatments.
- For educational interventions, the term evidence-based practice is used to distinguish interventions that have been shown to be effective through an accumulation of scientific evidence from multiple high-quality research studies.
- The Autism Society values services and support that maximize the quality of life in a person's home and community. Interventions, therapies and services for people with autism should be provided in settings that are as inclusive as possible.
The Autism Society is optimistic about the future of people with autism and their families. There is a wealth of ongoing research that promises to understand the causes of autism and identify evidence-based intervention and support options. As this research provides viable products, programs and protocols, it will help improve outcomes for individuals with autism. The selection of services and support will always be an important and challenging role for families.
Most people with autism make progress over the course of their lives. This progress is amplified by effective intervention and support. While none of us can say with certainty what a person may do in the future, the Autism Society recognizes that each person will progress at a different pace and that many factors affect progress.
The health of the person with autism and family members, behavioral issues, program quality, and the ability to transfer learned skills to the home or community all affect how quickly progress is made. We hope these guiding principles will be helpful on the journey.
For more information on evidence-based practices and research interpretations, visit the following websites:
The connection is you. Join our work to empower and connect the autism community with the resources they need to live fully.
Mark Ellison (Member of the Professional Advisors Panel), Ruth Sullivan (First President), Christopher Banks (President and CEO)
The Autism Society was founded in 1965 by Bernard Rimland, Ph.D. founded. his book,Infantile autism: the syndrome and its implications for a neural behavioral theory, was written in late 1964 and was one of the first of its kind. In 1968, Ruth Sullivan, Ph.D., became the organization's first elected president. Over the past 55 years, the Autism Society has grown from a handful of parents to the leading source for information, research, advice and support related to the autism experience. The Autism Society is the oldest and largest grassroots organization for autism, serving more than half a million people nationwide each year. Over the years, the Autism Society has served millions of autistic individuals, their families, and support professionals through advocacy, education, services, and support.
A vision for our futureis the three-year strategic plan for the Autism Society. In the face of change in leadership, an unprecedented worldwide pandemic, and the ambitious plan of the past, the board and management of The Autism Society were determined to create a plan that is realistic, achievable and affordable, and would provide a solid foundation for the future of autism society.
The Autism Society is seeking volunteers to serve on the Strategic Planning Committee and/or Task Force Committees. Task Forces were developed based on specific areas of focus and included:
- Marketing and Brand
- Affiliate Relationships
- National programs and finances
The task forces and the Strategic Planning Committee have been meeting regularly since June 2020.
The work of the task forces
- Review of the Results of the Previous Strategic Plan (2016-2020)
- Assessing the current needs and opportunities in the autism community
- Review of the mission, vision and overall values of the Autism Society
The work of the Mutirões was shared with the Strategic Planning Committee. Priorities were set, outcomes determined and funding needs identified.
The following pagescontain the two main components of the plan: brand development and extension. The plan identifies the initiatives identified by each task force, as well as the desired outcomes, proposed timeline, and estimated cost. Each initiative is coded based on the area of focus, e.g. B. Marketing and branding initiative: Brand development project is MB1 and advocacy initiatives are coded AD etc.
A vision for our future also includes a development plan to fund the initiatives and an organizational structure plan that addresses the key personnel needed to achieve the desired outcomes of the plan.
A vision for our future is the work of more than 150 people and more than 20 member organizations. As the plan's work unfolds, dozens more people will work together to help the Autism Society improve the lives of all autistic people.
As the Autism Society began strategic planning, a very thorough process was initiated to explore how the organization could best continue to meet the needs of the growing number of individuals and families affected by autism nationwide. In December 2020, years of effort culminated in a very comprehensive strategic plan approved by the Autism Society Board of Directors.
"As a board member over the past few years, I have enjoyed many things related to my work with the Autism Society of America. Being part of the brand of the future – which is not only innovative but also inclusive – is high on this list.”
Meet our team