Who We Are
The Autism Society is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots autism organization committed to improving the lives of those affected by autism. The Greater Akron affiliate was founded in 1987 by parent volunteers of children with autism. With nowhere to turn and a lack of information and support, they started ASGA to share information, educate themselves about autism, learn how to advocate for better outcomes for their children, and to bring awareness and understanding of autism to the Summit, Medina, Portage, Wayne, and Stark county communities.
The all-volunteer parent network changed in 2011 to hire its first full-time staff person to better meet community needs with consistent support, education, and advocacy. Today, ASGA has a diversified professional Board of Trustees, five full time staff members, two part time staff members, and over 300 volunteers who help administer programs. We are also proud to have developed and maintained many community partnerships across the multi-county service area.
In 2020, ASGA was recognized as the Affiliate of the Year for its development and implementation of Autism Friendly Communities. Using social justice as an interaction and instructional model, ASGA is teaching safety forces, hospitals, county park systems, and other community-based organizations how to adapt policies and procedures to better accommodate and support individuals with autism and developmental disabilities in a community-based setting.
ASGA also provides the following core programs:
Help Line: Free information and help locating resources and services for individuals with autism and other disabilities, and their families.
Peer-Led Support Groups and Social Clubs: Free informal forums for discussion and information.
Autism Friendly Communities (AFC): AFC designates partners who adopt policies and procedures to be inclusive and accommodating as Autism Friendly.
Family Inclusive Events: Free or discounted community-based inclusive activities for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families.
Educational Webinars: Free monthly educational webinars responsive to community needs and in partnership with area experts.
Why We Exist
- The most recent findings by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) puts the rate of autism at 1 in 54
- Based on the population of the U.S. and CDC rates, there are estimated to be over 2 million individuals affected by autism; an estimated 50,000 are right here in Ohio
- Given the birth rate from the U.S. Census Bureau and CDC incidence rates, nearly 50,000 individuals will receive an autism diagnosis this year
- Individuals and families need a place to turn for support and guidance, today.
- Support and guidance in local communities provided through a network of professionals, families, and volunteers is the best way to help all impacted by autism
What We Believe
Each individual with autism is a unique and important member of society deserving dignity, respect, and an equal opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.
Our Guiding Principles
- The Autism Society's efforts are focused on meaningful participation and self-determination in all aspects of life for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
- The Autism Society promotes individual, parental and guardian choice to assure that people on the autism spectrum are treated with dignity and respect.
- The Autism Society proactively informs, influences, guides and develops public policy at the federal, state and local levels, including by setting agendas for policymakers and legislators, for the benefit of the autism community.
- The Autism Society is the respected voice of the autism community and the primary source for information by providing timely, frequent, relevant and professional communication.
- The Autism Society works to ensure that every affiliate is a successful affiliate, sustained by a collaborative relationship between the national office and affiliates to realize mutual benefit and to protect the interests of both.
- The Autism Society advocates for multi-disciplined approaches to autism research focused on improving the quality of life for individuals across the autism spectrum and their families.
- The Autism Society works to ensure financial self-sufficiency and growth for all Autism Society operating units and integrated operations across all levels of the Autism Society.
Quality of Life Indicators
Our programs and services will focus on improving the quality of life for people on the autism spectrum and will reflect the following desired outcomes:
- School inclusion
- Friendship/social connection
- Health and wellbeing
- Academic success
- Independent living to the maximum extent possible
- Independent employment to the maximum extent possible
- Subjective wellbeing