Friday, October 23, 2009

Participants Sought For National Autism Town Hall Meeting In Chicago

The Autism Program of Illinois is seeking participants for the November 13, 2009 AFAA National Town Hall Meeting, central hub to be hosted at the UIC Forum, Chicago.



The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP)
Mark Schmidt ♦ 217-588-7660 (O) ♦ 217-306-6123 ♦

CHICAGO (October 15, 2009) – Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA), a consortium of leading autism advocacy organizations and service providers focused on addressing the increasing and unmet demand for effective services for adolescents and adults with autism, announced today that it will hold a national Town Hall meeting at sixteen different sites across the country on November 13 with the goal of developing an actionable national policy agenda for life-long living and learning with autism.

Chicago will serve as the anchor site for the effort, with more than 350 expected to attend the meeting at the UIC Forum. Sponsors for the Chicago site include The Autism Program of Illinois, Trinity Services, and Autism Speaks. The sponsoring organizations are currently seeking participants for the event, which is open to adults with autism, family members, community members, neighbors, employers, service providers, representatives of funding and support agencies, elected officials and others. Those interested in participating can visit for further information.

At each site, participant work groups will seek to establish priorities for meeting the needs of adults with autism in several key areas, including employment, housing, safety, recreation, transportation and social opportunities. The Town Hall will be organized from the central Town Hall hub in Chicago, with more than one thousand participants across the country linked via live webcast. Proposals developed during the course of the day-long session will be voted on electronically by all participants to develop a focused national agenda for change.

“There is a tidal wave of children with autism who will become adults during the next decade and our society has yet to address how the need for services, jobs, housing and other opportunities to lead fulfilling and productive lives will be met,” said Peter Bell, AFAA co-chair and executive vice president of Autism Speaks. “These aren’t challenges we can keep putting off. The need for action is real and urgent, and the Town Hall is a critical step in developing an agenda that can ultimately be realized through legislation and other means of effecting change.”

“The time is now to consolidate and focus our efforts to significantly improve the quality of life available to adults with autism,” said Ilene Lainer, AFAA co-chair and executive director of the New York Center for Autism. “As a society, we have an obligation to secure a brighter future for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. By taking action now, we can ensure that adults with autism break free of the all-too-common status of dependency and become engaged, involved and ideally, tax-paying, members of their communities.”

“We are proud to be one of the Chicago sponsors of AFFA,” said Georgia Winson, Chief of The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP). “Over the past six years, we have succeeded in building a partnership in Illinois that is leading the nation in policy development and architecting a system of care for persons with autism. There is no better site for the anchor point for this critical national dialogue.”

The prevalence of autism in the United States has increased tenfold in the last decade, from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100. With this dramatic increase has come a greater demand for effective services for adolescents and adults with autism and for accurate information on what constitutes appropriate evidence-based intervention and practice. The need continues to far exceed the available resources. The Town Hall meeting is a first step in developing a national policy to address these issues.

For information about the AFAA National Town Hall, please visit

About Autism

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About AFAA

Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA) is a national consortium seeking to create meaningful futures for adults with autism that include homes, jobs, recreation, friends and supportive communities. This unique national consortium has united to set national priorities for adults on the autism spectrum and to transform public policy and programming for teens and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Throughout 2009, AFAA will collect information, develop strategic solutions and advance the national agenda.

Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, and the New York Center for Autism are the AFAA organization chairs. The AFAA partners are: Global Communities of Support; Alpine Learning Group; The Autism Program of Illinois; The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation; Easter Seals; Hallmark Community Solutions; Organization for Autism Research; Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center; and the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.

About The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP)

Created by the Illinois General Assembly in 2003, The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP) is the largest statewide autism resource network in the nation. With 12 satellite locations across the state, TAP impacts more than 16,000 Illinois families each year.

For more information, please visit or

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