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Pillars

Come and learn about the seven pillars of our organization.

1.    Outreach

The Autism Society of Greater Phoenix offers many outreach programs for Autism Spectrum Disorders families and individuals. We offer parent mentors, monthly meetings, teen and adult groups, conferences and workshops, legal and insurance advocacy, education information, medical and therapy treatment resources, enrichment programs, family and siblings support, guidance for all ages and stages of Autism including newly diagnosed.

Parent Mentors: At the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix, we know what it’s like raising a child with autism or Asperger’s because every member of our Board of Directors is the parent of a child on the spectrum. Each of our Parent Mentors has unique experiences and specializes in a different area of need. Visit our Parent Mentor Page for more information.

Because no one understands the issues involved with raising a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder better than other parents.

2.    Medical and Therapy Treatments

Autism is treatable! Many children on the spectrum have medical symptoms that are not explained by an autism diagnosis.  These children often look healthy when actually they have complex medical conditions such as seizure disorder, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disorder, immune deficiency, anxiety and metabolic/mitochondrial disorders. These symptoms are rarely addressed by the children’s doctors, who typically do not look beyond the autism label. Through our Autism Society of Greater Phoenix Co-Morbid Educational Medical Project and Biomedical Treatment Checklist we help physicians, families and individuals treat Autism.

Educational/behavioral therapies are often effective in children with autism, with Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) usually being the most effective. These methods can and should be used together with biomedical interventions, as together they offer the best chance for improvement. The Autism Society of Greater Phoenix Insurance Committee helps educate parents and professionals on how to access insurance coverage for these services for autism treatment.

Autism Society of Greater Phoenix Co-Morbid Educational Medical Project: The co morbid educational medical project was started four years ago to educate physicians and parents of the co morbid medical conditions of autism.  Our goal is to educated medical professionals and parents of co morbid conditions of autism and the importance to looking behind the label of autism to see the child underneath the label.  We believe it is imperative that before a behavior of a child with autism is treated as a behavior that co morbid medical conditions are screened for and eliminated.   Many children with autism look healthy when actually they have complex medical conditions such as seizure disorder, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disorder, immune deficiency, anxiety and metabolic/mitochondrial disorders. We have formed a partnership with Phoenix Children’s Hospital to ensure that children in Phoenix are being screened for these co morbid conditions by specialists in neurology, gastroenterology, immunology, and endocrinology who understand the special medical issues that affect children with autism and provide excellent care to children with autism.  We speak locally and nationally to physicians and parents on co morbid conditions and have just completed a documentary Autism: Children Suffering In Silence which is now being shown nationally.   We have spoken at medical schools, hospitals, conferences, and parent support group meetings sharing our message. We designed a CD for parents that provide information on co morbid conditions and how to access excellent medical care including how best to work with a physicians.  Our goal is to ensure that every child with autism is screened and treated for co morbid medical conditions and that no child, unable to speak, goes to sleep in pain due to a co morbid medical condition.

Autism Society of Greater Phoenix Insurance Committee: Autism Society of Greater Phoenix Insurance Committee was formed in 2008 to work on and lobby for Steven’s Law.  We believe autism is treatable and that research supports the efficacy of intense Applied Behavioral Analysis to treat autism.  This treatment is recognized by American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Surgeon General. We believe that the earlier the treatment the greater the lifetime impact on the child. As a major stakeholder, we believe that Arizona families should be allowed to participate in the free market system and purchase insurance that covers autism. Autism Society of Greater Phoenix partnered with other stakeholders to ensure the passage of Steven’s law.  Steven’s Law provides for medical treatment and care for children with autism including applied behavioral analysis, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  Before 2009 parents in Arizona were unable to access their insurance to pay for autism treatment and had to rely solely on state and federal services.  Children with Aspergers were unable to access any medical treatment through the state or federal services and parents were forced to pay out of pocket.  Steven’s Law provides treatment for children with Aspergers as well as children with autism.

The current mission of our committee is to educate parents and professionals on how to access insurance coverage for services for autism treatment.  Currently only 50 children are receiving ABA therapy paid for through Steven’s Law.  Our goal is to ensure that all families that qualify for this coverage know it, understand it and access it for their children.  We also want to ensure that there are enough providers to provide quality programs and competition to give our families choice of providers within the network.

We speak locally and nationally on insurance issues.  We have designed a CD with information for parents on insurance including a PowerPoint on how to understand and read insurance policies, how to appeal and resources available to assist parents in accessing insurance.  We currently are designing a webinar for parents in Arizona to access to ensure they are have the latest and best knowledge on using Steven’s Law.

Catina Hoffman and Cynthia Macluskie are o-chairs of the Autism Society Insurance Committee.  Catina Hoffman is co-chair of the Autism Society Insurance Committee. She is the mother of 2 young girls, Gabrielle, autistic and Grace. Before moving to Arizona she was on Active Duty for the Air Force. Her husband is still servicing on active duty. Catina has sent over 2 years appealing and securing funding with the state, private and military insurance for coverage of autism/medical treatment for her daughter, Gabrielle. Catina Hoffman has been successful with all three plans and is an expert at the appeals process.  Cynthia Macluskie is currently the Vice President of Autism Society of Greater Phoenix, board member of ACT Today, and grant reviewer for First Things First and Autism Speaks. She was one of the seven mom’s who lobbied successfully for Steven’s Law that requires insurance companies to cover autism in the state of Arizona and received the Autism Service Award for her work on Steven’s Law.  Cynthia’s son Mark worked tirelessly on Steven’s Law, and testified at the senate health committee.  Mark designed buttons to educate legislators about autism insurance and was interviewed on channel 15 news.  He continues to volunteer for this committee.

3.    Advocacy

The primary focus of the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix Advocacy Committee is to provide direct support to individuals with autism and their families. Our Parent advocates offer expertise in the following areas:

  • Information and Referral: Find resources in the community.
  • School Issues: Learn about Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), what to do in the case of suspension or other forms of discipline, and advocating at school.
  • State Services: Accessing the system and getting services.
  • EPSDT: Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment for anyone on AHCCCS.
  • Transition Planning and Adult Support: Plan for the future.
  • Crisis Services: Where to turn when you need help.
  • Insurance: How to access coverage for therapies and medical conditions.
  • Legal: Help and resources throughout the valley.
  • Medical: Information on Co-morbid conditions, referrals and how to get scripts, documentation and coverage.
  • Trainings and Workshops: Training parents to be better advocates for their children.

4. Research

Autism Society of Greater Phoenix’s Research Program is dedicated to supporting specific research organizations in finding the causes of autism, how to prevent autism, and how to best help people with autism.

Autism/Asperger’s Research Program
Arizona State University
Directed by Professor James B. Adams, President of Autism Society Greater Phoenix

The focus is primarily on biomedical issues, including nutritional deficiencies, heavy metal toxicity, and bacterial/yeast overgrowth in the gut. However, it is strongly recommend that a combination of biomedical, behavioral, therapy, and educational interventions be used to best help children and adults with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism Research Institute
Founded by Bernard Rimland, a parent of an adult with autism and a leading advocate of research on autism. Publishes a newsletter summarizing current research on autism, and also provides a wide range of information.

Website: www.autism.com
Address: 4182 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116

The Strategic Autism Initiative (SAI)
The Strategic Autism Initiative is a medical research organization focused on identifying the environmental causes of the worldwide autism pandemic. SAI represents national and international autism organizations as their research arm. It exists to design, commission, fund, and publish first-class science that leads to the prevention of autism and related disorders.

5.    Education

Our main goal is to improve the quality of education for students on the autism spectrum primarily in Arizona, but also on a national level when it is practical and possible.  By raising awareness about autism and best practices in the classroom among educators and paraprofessionals, we believe we can enhance the learning experience for students with autism. The Autism Society of Greater Phoenix Educational Committee regularly speaks about experiences with autism and education throughout the valley and state, works actively with our legislators when issues arise and sit on parent panels to educate teachers about students with autism. Our Committee also includes numerous homeschool resources, IEP support as well as private and charter school information.

The Autism Society of Greater Phoenix Educational Committee: Autism Society of Greater Phoenix Educational Committee was formed in February of 2010.  Our main goal is to improve the quality of education for students on the autism spectrum primarily in Arizona, but also on a national level when it is practical and possible.  By raising awareness about autism and best practices in the classroom among educators and paraprofessionals, we believe we can enhance the learning experience for students with autism.  We regularly speak about our experiences with autism to college classes for future educators. In addition, we sit on parent panels to educate teachers about students with autism.

We are reaching out to parents of children with autism statewide and working to identify a parent representative from every school district in Arizona to act as a liaison for communicating with us regarding autism and their school district.  Together, we will form a powerful faction to make changes and improvements for our children when necessary.  Prior to the formation of the Educational Committee, Autism Society of Greater Phoenix board members partnered with other stakeholders in the autism community to help pass Senate Bill 1197. We are currently following up with school boards and their districts statewide to ensure that they comply with Senate Bill 1197, the Senate Task Force on Best Practices in Special Education and Behavior Management.

The Educational Committee will work actively with our legislators when issues arise concerning autism and education both at a state and national level.  We will openly support legislators that support the autism community. Future goals include putting together a CD of educational resources we have found to be the most useful for the state of Arizona.

6. Enrichment

Autism Society of Greater Phoenix supports many enrichment programs for individuals on the spectrum, siblings, parents and extended family members as well as professionals in the field. Such programs include social events, life skills programs and classes, arts based activities, special needs sports, robotics teams, Bal-a-vis-x clubs, Dad’s and Mom’s nights, crafts, camps, conferences, workshops and meetings. Dealing with Autism is hard and can take a toll we want to offer hope, friendship, support and education to all who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders.

7. Social and Family Life

As part of our mission to support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, The Autism Society of Greater Phoenix provides recreational opportunities and educational resources for individuals with ASD, siblings and family members.
Programs include: performing and fine arts classes, music classes, special needs sports, robotics teams, horticultural and vocational programs, cooking classes, camps, workshops, educational series and conferences.

Social activities: teen/adult gatherings, holiday events, family picnics, swim parties, sensory friendly films, field trips, parties and clubs.

Family matters: Siblings support groups, marriage and divorce support, grandparent’s network and safety.

Fundraisers and Special Events: ASGP hosts and supports a number of fundraisers and special events throughout the year. To find out more information about an event, please check our calendar of events page. If you would like to host your own event, please complete contact us at 480-940-1093. Thank you for your support of our organization.