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New Advocacy and Legal Resource

This is a guest post by John Ferguson, partner at Goodwin Procter LLP in New York City and the parent of a child diagnosed with PDD-NOS. Goodwin Procter LLP is an international law firm with over 850 attorneys and 10 offices on the east and west coasts of the United States and in London and Hong Kong.

As parents of a first-grader diagnosed with PDD-NOS, my wife and I have experienced first-hand how critical the resource of knowledge can be in navigating the “system.”

When John LeClaire, a partner in our Boston office whose nephew has autism, approached me with the idea of collaborating on a legal project with Autism Speaks, I was eager to get involved.  My wife (who is also an attorney) is a member of Autism Speaks’ 2010 ING New York City Marathon Team and we’d been active volunteers for a few years.  This seemed like a great way to leverage our professional expertise to help other families living with autism.

John LeClaire and I learned that Autism Speaks receives calls and emails daily from families who are dealing with challenging legal issues and do not know where to turn for guidance.  What we decided to do was to mobilize a team of lawyers at Goodwin Procter LLP to research frequently asked legal questions and develop an online resource of information and contacts for families.  We saw this project as an opportunity to share some of our firm’s unique skills and resources in the hope that it helps others in finding answers and support that they may otherwise have missed.

It turned out to be the perfect pro bono project for me to be involved with, as over the years I frequently marveled at the potential for missteps and missed opportunities that comes without the knowledge to understand how to access available support and resources.  A group of seven lawyers from Goodwin devoted close to five months working with Autism Speaks’ family services team to prepare the legal information resource kit that will now be available free of charge for download on Autism Speaks’ website.

John LeClaire and I are both very pleased with the results.  For John, “this was an exciting opportunity to bring the resources of Goodwin to help with an issue that is close to my and my family’s hearts, and, sadly, of growing consequence and importance to our society.”  We hope that the legal resource our firm developed will be helpful to you as you strive to do the best for your children and encourage you to spread the word so that as many families can benefit as possible.

To read more about the information prepared by Goodwin Procter LLP, please visit: www.autismspeaks.org/rights

Family Services provides resources and information. If you have a question, contact the Autism Response Team today. If you’re concerned that your child may be affected with autism or if you’ve received a diagnosis, browse the Tools for Families section, where you’ll find our 100 Day Kit, and the Autism Video Glossary. If you’d like to do a quick search for service providers near you, selectFind a Local Resource and browse the Resource Guide.

  1. January 20, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Thank you, John Ferguson & John LeClaire, for all the legal leg-work you’ve both done! Your concept & follow-through results will be of great assistance to the many families dealing with the legal issues of autism in the midst of their medical & social needs.

  2. gante beatrice
    January 20, 2011 at 10:52 am

    We need you here in France!!!

  3. January 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I am a teacher with 20 years experience and still had a very difficult time navigating the world of special education for my son, with PDD. In the end I relocated with my family to a town that offered him an inclusive classroom. This has made all the difference.

  1. January 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm

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