2023 was a expansive year for the Autism Society Greater New Orleans. Every one of our program areas saw increased numbers of engagement and access. Every year, we strive to better serve Autistic individuals and their families in our service area, and we are constantly re-evaluating and adapting our programs and services based on the needs we identify. At the beginning of 2023, we promised to expand our Family Outings program, as well as focus on expanding our inclusive holiday events. I am proud to report that we doubled our number of family outings, and added a new annual inclusive holiday event to our calendar, our inclusive egg hunt. Our Inclusive Halloween Party had over 300 attendees, and our Sensory-Friendly Santa served 46 participants with a 99% photo success rate.
In 2023, we also greatly expanded our Vaccine Education Initiative through grants awarded by the AAP, AUCD, and USAging. Compared to 2022 we exponentially increased our impact through this program and were able to train 55 healthcare providers at 7 sites on Autism and our accessible vaccination model Lack of accessibility of care is a serious barrier to health for Autistic individuals, and our organization will continue to seek out initiatives, funding, and programs to participate in that help us to break down barriers, and increase access to inclusive care environments. This funding also allowed us to translate 13 documents into both Spanish and Vietnamese including our Symbol Communication Boards and Visual schedules so that our adaptive equipment is accessible to underserved members of our community.
Thanks to our partnership with Morrison Law, we were able to help 18 families get a FREE General Power of Attorney. This crucial document helps caregivers ensure they have someone to make decisions on their behalf in a crisis, and also provides Adult Autistic individuals a less restrictive method to ensure a trusted support person can help them make decisions in their lives without surrendering their rights through interdiction. We appreciate Morrison Law’s commitment to our mission, and hope to connect with more annual partners this year to increase access to these kinds of essential, specialized services and information.
The Autism Society Greater New Orleans is thankful to our donors and sponsors for being the connection, and allowing us to provide vital supports, programming and services to our local area. Because of your support we can continue to develop resources, create new programs, and advocate for inclusive policies and practices at the local and state level, and build connections, not only to resources, but also to each other. It is clear from the consistent increases in people accessing our events and programs that the need in our area is great. It is vital that we continue to increase our funding to continue to meet the needs of our community. As effective stewards, we continually strive to be responsive and accessible to societal needs, challenges, and opportunities that arise. Through the work of our affiliate, individuals and families can connect with each other, with resources, and with supports and services so that they may live full, vibrant, self-actualized lives. Thank you to all the individuals, families, businesses, and community partners that have played a crucial role in fulfilling our mission and positively impacting the lives of so many.
The connection is you.
Claire Tibbetts, RKT
The Autism Society Reminds Everyone to Celebrate Differences for Autism Acceptance Month
This April is Autism Acceptance Month, and the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans reminds everyone that acceptance happens every day.
New Orleans, LA — This April, the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans (ASGNO) is reminding everyone that acceptance happens every day. Autism Acceptance Month kicks off on April 1, and the Autism Society is highlighting the power of acceptance in our daily interactions for those with Autism. For ASGNO, acceptance means more than a designation for the month; it is an act of embracing the different, diverse and unique experiences across the Autism community.
The organization is connecting with Autistic individuals, their families, friends, and support teams with their annual #CelebrateDifferences campaign. The goal of #CelebrateDifferences is to highlight and honor the infinite ways in which people experience life. The campaign aligns with ASGNO’s vision to connect everyone in the Autism community to the support they need, when they need it – no matter how they identify themselves or the diversity of support needs.
“Autism Acceptance Month is a great reminder that acceptance is understanding that one size does not fit all – that we can and should see an individual’s unique needs and work together to advocate for the services and supports that help each person live fully,” said Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “This is what #CelebrateDifferences is all about – recognizing the diversity of the Autism community so that we can create more accessible, quality, support and service options for our community.”
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, with 1 in 36 children receiving a diagnosis. Early diagnosis for children between one and four-years-old has proven to have a significant impact on their lifelong outcomes, as they are fifty times more likely to receive services that support their development through childhood.
There are approximately 5.8 million Autistic adults and another nearly 1.1 million are nearing adulthood in the next few years, effectively aging out of state-funded supports and services. Only about one-third of Autistic adults work in paid jobs for more than 15 hours a week, yet employment plays a pivotal role in transitions to adulthood, independent living, socialization, self-worth and confidence.
The Autism Society and its network of affiliates create impact across the country, and directly within the Greater New Orleans area, to deliver services and supports throughout the lifespan. This includes individualized advice and emotional support through our information and referral program, the opportunity for genuine peer support at our online social and support groups for caregivers and Autistic adults, direct financial support through our mini-grant program, organic social interactions and educational opportunities at our inclusive community events and family outings, and increasing health equity with our Vaccine Education Initiative through provider trainings, inclusive vaccine distributions, and plain language educational materials.
“We are proud to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month here in New Orleans. By embracing the unique strengths and perspectives of Autistic individuals in our community, we can create a more inclusive world.” Said Claire Tibbetts, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans. “This month, we urge local individuals, businesses, and organizations to come together to learn more about Autism, endeavor to create truly inclusive spaces for our neurodiverse neighbors, and work towards ensuring that every Autistic person has access to the support and resources they need to thrive.”
Locally, the Autism Society Greater New Orleans directly served 462 people through their information and referral service in the past year, while 9000 individuals visited their website looking for information and resources. 50 people attended educational events, and 2,600 individuals received accessible educational information on COVID-19 vaccines.
Over 100 providers, students, and community leaders were trained on providing inclusive and accessible vaccination experiences. 268 people attended support groups including Autistic individuals and caregivers. ASGNO also provided direct tangible support to area families and individuals by distributing 300 backpacks filled with free school supplies, 32 free COVID-19 vaccines, and over $11,000 in mini-grants.
Last year, advocates sent 600+ letters to Congress to take action to ban electric shock devices. The Autism Society and partners successfully advocated for critical bills to increase funding and/or supports within the omnibus bill, ABLE Age Adjustment Act, Money Follows the Person, Kevin & Avonte’s Law, and Assistive Technology Act among others. At the state level, ASGNO supports the legislative agenda of LACAN and the LADDC by sharing and responding to action alerts, and contacting legislators. The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans also partnered with the other affiliates in the state to advocate for Governor Edwards to sign a proclamation declaring April Autism Acceptance Month in Louisiana
In the coming year, the Autism Society is investing significantly in its national programs. The organization plans to expand its Vaccine Education Initiative (VEI) to address the unique needs of the Autism community and accessible healthcare; deliver increased first responder trainings with tools and information to serve the Autistic community more safely and effectively for life-saving outcomes; expand employment opportunities and outcomes for Autistic individually addressing systemic barriers to employment; and deepen the organizational focus on health equity to build a robust system of supports, services and resources aimed at the whole living experience. The Autism Society Greater New Orleans was a pilot site for the VEI, and is participating in the program again this year.
Throughout the month of April, the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans will highlight more about these specific initiatives and stories that aim to demonstrate acceptance in action. The Autism Society is encouraging everyone to connect and participate in the #CelebrateDifferences campaign to learn more, share information and personal stories, and join the movement to practice acceptance every day.
About Autism Society of Greater New Orleans
The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans mission is to create connections, empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully. ASGNO is part of the nation’s oldest leading grassroots Autism organization, the Autism Society, and is one of 70+ affiliates which collectively serve over half a million members of the Autism community each year. It envisions a world where everyone in the Autism community is connected to the support they need, when they need it – including education, advocacy efforts, community programming, and supports and services throughout the lifespan. During Autism Acceptance Month, the Autism Society Greater New Orleans has a goal to fundraise $5,000 to expand acceptance in practice for the Autism community. For more information, go to www.asgno.org, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
A letter from our leader.
2022 was a exciting year for the Autism Society Greater New Orleans. From the return of our annual Autism Festival, to the 12th year of our Mini-Grant program, our staff, board, and volunteers provided vital services to our community. Every year, we strive to better serve Autistic individuals and their families in our service area, and we are constantly re-evaluating and adapting our programs and services based on the needs we identify. In the upcoming year, we will be focusing on further expanding our family outing program, which was piloted in 2022, and our inclusive holiday events such as our Inclusive Halloween Party, and Sensory Santa.
In 2022, we participated in the Vaccine Education Initiative along with 11 other affiliates across the country, where we shared accessible resources, provided education, and created opportunities for Autistic individuals to receive COVID-19 Vaccines through accessible vaccination clinics. Lack of accessibility of care is a serious barrier to health for Autistic individuals, and our organization will continue to seek out initiatives, funding, and programs to participate in that help us to break down barriers, and increase access to inclusive care environments.
The Autism Society Greater New Orleans is thankful to our donors and sponsors for being the connection, and allowing us to provide vital supports, programming and services to our local area. Because of your support we can continue to develop resources, create new programs, and advocate for inclusive policies and practices at the local and state level, and build connections, not only to resources, but also to each other.
As effective stewards, we continually strive to be responsive and accessible to societal needs, challenges, and opportunities that arise. Through the work of our affiliate, individuals and families can connect with each other, with resources, and with supports and services so that they may live full, vibrant, self-actualized lives. Thank you to all the individuals, families, businesses, and community partners that have played a crucial role in fulfilling our mission and positively impacting the lives of so many.
The connection is you.
Claire Tibbetts, RKT
Having the skills and ability to swim is both fun AND important for safety! Many conventional swim lesson programs are not appropriate for individuals on the Autism Spectrum. ASGNO has compiled a list of all of the adaptive swim lesson programs suitable for individuals on the Autism Spectrum in the GNO area. CLICK HERE to see the list! If you have any questions,comments,concerns, or a program to add to this list please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Do you shop on Amazon.com? If so, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of all eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans when you shop at AmazonSmile. Just go to smile.amazon.com or click the banner below and simply log into your Amazon account. Then shop AND support the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans at the same time!
About Amazon Smile. AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers.
Use Discount Code ND-095 when booking a cruise with Autism on the Seas (AotS) and they will make a donation on your behalf to the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans (ASGNO)! And each family that uses the Donation Code will receive a $25 Onboard Credit for use during their cruise!
Book a 5 night (or longer) cruise and AotS will donate $100 to ASGNO. Book a 2-4 night cruise and AotS will donate $50 to ASGNO. All you have to do is use Discount Code ND-095 when booking your cruise. Donations will apply only to guests who have not cruised with Autism on the Seas in the past. Visit their website at www.AutismOnTheSeas.com for pricing, availability, and additional information.