Hurricane Irene is bearing down on the U.S. East Coast with exteme impacts expected through the weekend. Hurricane warnings and watches are posted as far north as New England. Autism Speaks wants to make sure that everyone can be as prepared as possible.
Here are some useful links that will help in storm preparation.
Here Shelley Hendrix shares how to navigate the uncertainties of a natural disaster as the mother of a child on the autism spectrum. She offers some special things to do for families having to evacuate.
The Autism Safety Project provides information for families and First Responders with information and guidelines for communicating with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in emergency situations.
AutismCares Provides Grants for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Times of Crisis or Unplanned Hardships
Please everyone be safe and follow all precautions.
Please know that you can always contact the Autism Response Team (ART) members are specially trained to connect families with information, resources and opportunities. Call us at 888-AUTISM 2 (288-4762) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a response we received from a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome who received an Autism Cares grant.
The Autism Cares Grant help me to establish some independence and get back on my feet. I’ve been struggling as I try and navigate life on the autism spectrum. For a while I was letting my struggles affect me in other areas of my life. I was taking all of the negative things in my life out on other people. The Autism Cares grant not only helped me pay my rent and give me a nice place to live for 4 months it is going to help me get other areas of my life up and going the way that they should be. I’m very excited and appreciative of the Autism Cares grant and know that it will be put to good use. This will allow me time to get on my feet and try and find a good job for me. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I really want to become as independent as I can and it’s something I am working on doing. My parents were losing their house so I was going to be left without a place to stay. The Autism Cares grant helped me help my parents save their house so not only myself but my entire family could keep a roof over their head as well. I’m now able to pay my parents rent I owe them for 4 months thanks to the Autism Cares grant. Thank you to everyone at Autism Speaks.
To learn more about our Autism Cares program, visit www.autismcares.org. For more information on transition and independence for young adults and adults with autism, check out our transition tool kit!http://www.autismspeaks.org/community/family_services/transition.php
This guest post is by Andy Shih, Ph.D., the Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Autism Speaks.
When I heard about the terrible earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan the early morning of March 11, I immediately emailed parents and professionals I met in Tokyo and Nagoya last summer. Fortunately, they were all fine, although many said it was the strongest quake they’ve ever experienced. But other than the inconvenience of some of them having to spend the night in their offices because the trains were not running, most of them, like the rest of the country, seemed to take things in stride and tried to get back to normal.
Normal proved to be elusive in the days that followed as the scope of the devastation became more clear. And with the emerging realization of a possible nuclear crisis, the tone of emails from our colleagues and friends also changed.
On March 13, a researcher wrote: “It is not our culture to ask for help from others, but I don’t think it is the situation to worry about people’s perception.” A day later, a parent wrote: “There should be a considerable number of people with autism who are panicking with this truly unpredictable situation. They can be staying at home with fear, or at evacuation camps that are totally unfamiliar to them…”
Worried about a growing crisis for our families our staff fanned out to seek expert advice on how we can best help. The answer was to make an exception and use Autism Cares, an Autism Speaks program historically focused on helping individuals and families affected by natural disasters in the U.S., to help our families in Japan.
So as recommendations from experts started to come in, we launched our fund-raising effort on Autism Cares.
All experts we’ve contacted so far, from science advisers like Ezra Susser, Ph.D. of Columbia University School of Public Health, and a member of our Scientific Advisory Committee, to professional organizations like Direct Relief, recommend that given the many ongoing international aid efforts already in place, targeting the Japanese autism community might be the best use of Autism Speaks’ efforts and resources.
They also suggested Autism Speaks work through a leading community organization that shares our interests and goals, since they probably know the needs on the ground best. Given Autism Speaks is already in contact with several key autism/developmental disability advocacy organizations in Japan, the consensus was that we partner with them to speed relief to individuals and families in need.
However, in order to effectively target our aid as well as track and measure our impact, we still needed to better understand the needs and priorities on the ground. Fortunately, some of our researcher and parent contacts are traveling to affected areas this week as part of a government assessment/aid team, and we have requested a list of their consensus priorities based on the information they collect. Once we receive the consensus priorities, the plan is to work with our partners to establish processes and procedures to forward the resources we have raised.
In the meantime, we have asked our Autism Speaks colleague Shelley Hendrix to serve as an information resource for our Japanese contacts. Shelley is experienced in helping families after natural disasters and played a key role in our relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina several years ago, as she herself was greatly impacted by that natural disaster.
While we are still gathering information to inform the best use of our resources, the needs are undeniable and seem to grow daily. In addition to our families from communities devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese government has recommended extending the evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant to 19 miles, affecting approximately 140,000 residents. This is of course more conservative than the 50-mile evacuation zone advisory issued by the U.S. Embassy.
Based on current consensus global prevalence estimate of 1%, up to 20,000 individuals and families with ASD will be uprooted and forced to navigate unfamiliar and difficult new environments. They desperately need your and our help NOW. Please visit Autism Cares to make a donation to support families in Japan.
This is a response we received from a recipient of a grant from our Autism Cares program. The Autism Cares grant went to her gas bill, electric bill, and her rent. Autism Cares provides financial support to families affected by autism during natural disasters and other catastrophic life events. These grants help to cover costs associated with critical living expenses such as; housing, utilities, car repair, daycare, funeral expenses, and other essential items on a case-by-case basis.
Dear Autism Speaks,
I just got home from work and received your e-mail about our Autism Cares grant, and it’s taken me quite a while here to stop the tears! You have NO idea how grateful we all are for your help! I am just floored…thank you, thank you, thank you!
I had no idea how I was going to get through March, let alone catch up with the bills on which I was past due. Now we will be able to be “in the black” for the first time in a LONG, long while! Not to mention the fact that now I’ll have a little extra money for food that our state food benefits doesn’t cover for us. You are such a blessing to us!
How do I possibly convey my thanks? I don’t know how…I just don’t. All I know is that I will finally rest a little easier. It isn’t just “help with the bills” that you are giving my family…it is also knowing that there are those who really do CARE, and who understand the challenges of having multiple children with autism in a single-parent home. It’s never easy, I know, but I’ve often wondered “why me”? Why my family, my boys? Now I know why: these children have given ME so much strength I would’ve never had otherwise. Sometimes, however, I just don’t feel very strong.
Once again, I just am SO grateful for this help! This will pull us out of a big hole, and my boys will finally not see me weep about money concerns!
Thank you…SO MUCH…for giving me back a bit of strength….!
Many Blessings to you!
For more information about Autism Cares, visit www.autismcares.org.