By Sandi Rosenbaum, Special Education Advocate, Littman Krooks LLP
On February 13, 2018, the OPWDD Autism Spectrum Disorders Advisory Board (“the Board”) held an Upstate Forum, which included the Hudson Valley via video-conference. The Board held a second forum in Manhattan on February 22, which included Long Island and Queens via video-conference. In November of 2016, New York State, through legislation, created the Board to help provide guidance and information to New York policymakers, individuals with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (ASD) and families seeking information regarding services and supports.
Following its first meeting in September 2017, the Board published an initial First Report, and is seeking input to formulate recommendations. The Board asked forum participants to focus on the following topics:
- Identification of effective support and services models,
- Recommendations to improve inter agency coordination,
- Recommendations to foster acceptance of people with ASD in communities and the workplace, and
- Suggestions for legislative and regulatory changes to improve the lives of people with ASD.
Twenty-five individuals spoke at the Upstate Forum on a variety of topics. Speakers noted many areas of need and some successes. Notable topics included:
- Success of the Tele-health model, whereby patients are in the same room with a nurse and a physician meets with them via Skype, which eliminates the difficult transitions and ensuing behaviors involved for individuals with ASD in a medical visit, and increases efficiency;
- Eager anticipation of the Golisano Autism Center, opening this year in Rochester to serve individuals across the lifespan and across all areas of need;
- Advocacy that all first responders receive training on ASD;
- Advocacy for higher compensation and a credentialing system for Direct Service Professionals, to obtain and keep quality staff caring for our most vulnerable;
- Noting the absence of appropriate mental health services for individuals with ASD and intellectual disability, some of whom must travel out of state for inpatient care to address their unique and intensive needs, and advocacy for greater coordination with the state Office of Mental Health.
To receive information on the ASD Advisory Board, you may visit https://opwdd.ny.gov/opwdd_community_connections/autism-board or email: ASDadvisoryboard@opwdd.ny.gov