New York, Los Angeles Among the Ten Best Places to Live for Families with Autism

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The large metropolitan areas of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Boston are among the ten best places to live in the United States for people with autism. Northern New Jersey, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle and Milwaukee are also at the top of the list for resources for autism spectrum disorders. The findings are from an online survey commissioned by Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, on livability issues for families of autistic patients.

More than 800 members of the autism community in 48 states and the District of Columbia participated in the survey. Unfortunately, however, the vast majority (74%) of respondents were generally unhappy with the availability of services and resources for patients with autism spectrum disorders.

“Our goal in conducting this survey is to encourage conversations within the autism community, and to inform policy makers and leaders in local communities about the tremendous need for increased services and inspire action. Overall, the needs of the growing population of people with autism are not being met, and that has to change,” said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks.

Read: Autism Awareness Month Should Generate Fresh Treatments

For those that responded positively about their community, many cited satisfaction with the educational services that their child has received, proximity to outside services, flexible employer policies, access to clinical/medical care, and recreational opportunities as key attributes.

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Five of the 10 best places are located in states that have enacted autism insurance reform. The remaining five have legislation pending. Twenty-four states in total have enacted laws to help families avoid out-of-pocket expenses for diagnosis, treatments, and other related care.

Among the states with the most negative responses were Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and California. Those who were unhappy with their community services reported such attributes as having to travel considerable distances for medical and clinical treatments and lack of local access to recreational services. More than half were unsatisfied with the quality and level of educational services in their community.

Read: Assistance for Young Adults with Autism Declines After High School

“The need for improved access to medical and clinical services was clearly established in the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs published in Pediatrics (2008), which found that children with autism spectrum disorders have more difficulties accessing medical care and more unmet needs than other children with special health care needs,” said Dan Coury, M.D., Medical Director for the Autism Treatment Network

Across the board, respite services were lacking in all areas. Even those who responded positively in other areas reported they had no access to respite services when they needed a break from the 24/7 responsibilities of caring for family members with autism.

“These survey results confirm what we hear every day from families – that they are struggling to get their children services that are essential to their development and well-being,” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks’ web site offers a Family Services Resource Guide, the largest most comprehensive autism database in the world with over 36,000 services, that includes links to local services in all 50 states, from places to get a diagnosis, adult services, health services, intervention and advocacy services.

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