Advocacy Groups & Disability Agencies
The Autism Society is the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization. It exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. It was founded in 1965 by Dr. Bernard Rimland, Dr. Ruth Sullivan and many other parents of children with autism. Through its strong national network of affiliates, the Autism Society has spearheaded numerous pieces of state and local legislation, including the 2006 Combating Autism Act, the first federal autism-specific law. The Autism Society’s website is one of the most visited websites on autism in the world and its quarterly journal, Autism Advocate, has a broad national readership.
The Autism Society also hosts the most comprehensive national conference on autism, attended by 2,000 people each year. The Autism Society’s national office is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland.
The local Gulf Coast chapter of the Autism Society meets on every second Tuesday of the month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the United Way Building on Clear Lake City Boulevard I went one only time and found it to be a good group of moms in various school districts (Sante Fe, Dickinson, Alvin, Clear Creek). I would attend more often, but Tuesday night is boyscouts for my other son.
UPDATE AS OF 10/31/2019: This chapter, which was once active–I attended meetings years ago–seems to have folded. I have contacted the national Autism Society to see if this group is still in existence.
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We are proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and look forward to continued successes in the years ahead.
I just want to say that Families Can has proven to be a very valuable resource for our family.
A trained and knowledgeable parent (by the name of Olga, in our case) visits us in our home annually–even though we are in Clear Lake–and lets us know of programs and services available to us. It is really helpful to hear information from someone who is going through, or has already been through, the same challenges as you. That’s the idea behind Families CAN.
Families CAN provides Parent-to-Parent Services for Families of Children with special health care needs. Family Partners are parent caseworkers who themselves are parents of children with special health care needs. They work one-on-one with families to assist, support and empower them in getting resources for their children and to enhance their families’ quality of life.
Free Services Provided
- Information & Referrals.
- In-home casework services.
- Assistance with getting services from other agencies.
- Assistance with coordination of children’s resources, services and educational programs.
- Family Support Services.
- Advocacy with policy-making committees to represent the parents’ point of view.
- Parent Support Groups
- Transition Workshop for Parents (New)
They also offer a useful resource guide: http://www.las.uh.edu/pep/resources-for-families-and-children-with-disabilities.aspx
The Families CAN Program is funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services: Children with Special Health Care Needs Division.
For more information, contact:
Shelley Townsend (713) 743-5491
FEAT-Houston is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to “improve the quality of life of those affected by developmental disabilities by increasing resources and providing information about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
FEAT sponsors workshops and meetings that provide training on effective treatment strategies for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and also provides information on ABA and special education law trainings through monthly emails and newsletters. Tuition reimbursement and conference stipend programs help support the development of ABA resources in the Greater Houston area and make it possible for more teachers and parents to learn about scientifically validated teaching methods for children, teens and adults with autism.
FEAT-Houston distributes a good newsletter which contains all sorts of classes and programs for autistic kids and their parents.
–A FEAT chapter for Clear Lake used to meet in the United Way building, but I’m not sure that group is still active.
The Arc is a non-profit organization formed nationally in 1950 to advocate for the inclusion of people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in all aspects of society and is established at the national, state, and local levels.
“In 1984, a small group of parents and other family members, friends of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and professionals who work with them organized The Arc of Greater Houston. The Arc of Greater Houston is now the largest Arc chapter in the State of Texas, with a membership base of 2000 and growing. Arc representatives serve on the Board of Directors of the state and national Arc organizations as well as on a number of state committees that address disability issues.”
My personal interactions with this Arc have been limited because while they claim all of Houston as their service area, their primary focus is on the north and west side of Houston. They basically have no presence and provide no services in the S. Houston or Clear Lake area.
Established in 1969 and based in Alvin, Texas, The Arc of the Gulf Coast is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in their quest for self-determination, ensuring that they have meaningful lives in the communities where they live, learn, work, play and worship. The Arc focuses on three primary areas of activity: 1) individual advocacy efforts for adults and children with IDD in their communities; 2) financial assistance for people with IDD and their families; and 3) community advocacy, which includes advocacy with policy makers and support of self-advocates. They respond to individual needs, “one person at a time.” The ARC will also assist with attending ARD meetings. Its service areas are Galveston and Brazoria counties.
If you need help with an autism-related problem and don’t know who to call, the ARC of the Gulf Coast is a great resource! They have attracted many wonderful, dedicated people to their board, and it is an organization which does a lot of good. My only complaint is that Clear Lake technically falls outside their service area. They’ll still try to assist Harris County residents though.