AOTA and Autism Speaks Collaborate
AOTA's efforts to enhance occupational therapy's recognition by the autism community moved significantly forward on Wednesday, March 13; representatives from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and Autism Speaks, who are also parents of children with autism, met at the Autism Speaks national headquarters in New York.
The meeting was initiated by AOTA through the leadership of AOTA President Florence Clark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, who served with Autism Speaks Vice President of State Government Affairs Lorri Unumb on the California Advisory Autism Task Force. The meeting covered many issues, including the unique ways in which occupational therapy can enhance the quality of life for children and adults with autism. "We also reviewed shared advocacy concerns, the state of autism research, and how to collaborate to support each other's efforts," said Clark.
"This was a great opportunity to share the breadth of what occupational therapy can offer across the lifespan to those with autism and our unique contributions to quality of life," Clark continued. "I was pleased that we were able to identify some important areas of mutual concern where we can work together to improve the availability of services for people with autism."
AOTA President-Elect Ginny Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA, noted, "we were able to elaborate on important elements of occupational therapy's role for people with autism transitioning to adulthood, which is a critical area of concern for families and advocacy organizations as children get older. And of course we have evidence to support our work." A copy of AOTA's Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Children and Adolescents With Autism was provided.
Among the shared issues of concern were health care reform implementation and the role of the states in defining essential health benefits, assistance for practitioners and families to challenge negative insurance decisions, and education on how to obtain referrals for occupational therapy. The organizations also discussed recognition on each other's Web sites.
"This was an excellent meeting and hopefully the start of an ongoing collaborative relationship between two organizations working to make the lives of those with autism better," said Stoffel.
Fred Somers (Executive Director, AOTA)
Maureen Peterson (Chief Professional Affairs Officer, AOTA)
Virginia Stoffel (President-Elect, AOTA)
Florence Clark (President, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA))
Lorri Unumb, Esq. (Vice President, State Government Affairs, Autism Speaks)
Dan Unumb, Esq. (Executive Director, Autism Legal Resource Center, Autism Speaks)
Christina Metzler (Chief Public Affairs Officer, AOTA)
Peter Bell (Executive Vice President, Programs and Services, Autism Speaks)
March 22, 2013