Editor’s note: the following article was submitted by Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC) Parent Advocate Judy Smithmyer. Judy, along with ASNC Director of Government Relations Jennifer Mahan, attended last Monday’s White House Autism Summit. This is Judy’s account of that eventful day.
On April 25th 2011 I had the opportunity to participate in a Autism Awareness month meeting which was held at the White House. This meeting included white house staff with the likes of Karrem Dale, Assistant to the President for Disability policy, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS, and Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor for Strategic Engagement to the Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, among other senior administration officials.
What impressed me even more were the invited participants from across the county. Leading research scientists, Ph.D.’s in the field of Autism, Leading members of Advocacy organizations and most importantly parents and self-advocates.
The White House administration brought us together to gather information and ideas on the following topics:
- Education and Employment
- Community-based Services
- Research and Innovation
- Public Health and Healthcare.
While we the participants were given the opportunity to share our concerns and ideas related to the above topics, it was clear that there was still alot of work to be done. Our county is faced with an autism epidemic; this was even mentioned by Administration. We were told that our President, Barack Obama, supports the reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act and is committed to seeing this through.
At the conclusion of the meeting I didn’t want the day to end, the ideas to stop flowing or to lose the opportunity to be heard. Seeing all those intelligent, articulate people in one room exchanging ideas and information on Autism for a concentrated amount of time left me feeling empowered.
If you want to become involved in hearing more from our Federal government on issues related to Autism and other disabilities, the White House is hosting monthly calls to update you on various disability issues as well as introduce you to persons who work on disability issues in the federal government. To be added to the email list please visit the following website and fill out the “contact us” form.
Parent Advocate, Autism Society of North Carolina Greensboro Office