A LETTER TO ALL AUTISM PROVIDERS
No one could have imagined the journey we have taken during the past few months. Yet, here we stand fighting to keep our services a reality for the many children and adults with autism who depend on us.
Autism providers represent a broad range of members. We serve children in clinics, in homes, in residential programs and in schools. We serve adults in homes, in jobs and in their communities. All of them have been impacted in some manner by the current virus crisis. What we do is vitally important and I’m proud to be in this industry at this moment.
I echo the gratitude expressed by many of you for those serving in our programs, serving in our associations and the many organizations that support us. I am grateful for colleagues who surrender their expertise and resources to support each other. I appreciate the encouragement from one to another when we face a crisis that have us wondering if our organizations may survive this crisis.
A few thoughts.
The autism community is filled with generous, passionate, analytical, intelligent, creative problem solvers. That means your organization is equipped with exactly the kind or people we need to get through this crisis.
Our communities have been there for us, let’s be there for them. Some of us have benefited from local employers who hired people with autism at our request. They helped with the local autism walk. They responded with financial gifts or other donations when we asked. Let’s remember them. Where possible, frequent these businesses, buy their gift cards for your staff or promote them to your constituents. We all need each other.
Here is a twist, there has never been a better time for such a crisis to hit us. Technology, entertainment, on-line banking and credit cards means one less thing changes hands, some have grocery store pick up or delivery, the economy was strong entering this challenge, digital access to nearly every book written, supply chains for food and many other necessities remain strong, video conferencing, science, Turner Classic Movies! We have a lot of reasons to be thankful for what is available. Add to this list!
I remember a peer trying to explain to a person with autism what does it mean to give someone the “benefit of the doubt.” It is a rather abstract concept but incredibly important during these times. If it is a person served, a team member, a neighbor or a stranger, we all benefit when we give someone a little extra processing time.
Take care of yourself. Take time away from news. Exercise, breath, listen to a new pod cast. Take a break from this present crisis. Practice being present with loved ones. Can’t get to the gym? Dig out that old Jane Fonda videotape.
You’ve got this. You have been prepared for this unique time and place given your life experiences. While it is true no one has faced a challenge like this, many of you have faced hardship. In the midst of great confusion we may need a reminder. We have all overcome our own obstacles that seemed insurmountable at one time. You will get through this.
I’ve been impressed by how well those we serve have adapted to hardship and new routines as a result of this crisis. I admire their willingness to accept changes in their homes, clinics, schools and work settings. I’d like to think we had something to do with preparing them for this but regardless, their endurance is inspirational.
These are not easy times but there is another side to this challenge. We may not know exactly what that looks like but we will get there. When we do, our missions will be just as important as they were a few months ago. The children and adults with autism need and deserve our services. For them we need to survive this.
Thanks for be a part of this family and for the work you do.
CEO, Balance Autism and President of CASP