Support & Advocacy
“People like you need to run for political office.”
This is what one mom told me after a 20 minutes conversation about what ASMV does and the needs that I still want to be met after answering parents’ calls and responding to emails for many years.
I’m not a politician and never will be. I am the parent of two boys with autism and, in my professional capacity, the face and voice for autistic individuals and families throughout the Mahoning Valley. The position has several pieces: direct information and referral; fundraising; community programming and public advocacy.
This past month was all about advocacy as I tried to bridge together support needs when possible. Here are a few examples:
- Supported a single parent through the process of getting waiver services. In addition to helping her young adult, this allows me to be able to inform the County on the needs that should be provided in the community.
- Met with Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities. By understanding the role of their early intervention specialists in helping young families I can better help parents of the newly diagnosed.
- Hosted a resource table at the health expo. This allowed me to talk with family members, other community resources, and the general public about the needs of families.
- Met with the Special Services Director of Springfield Local to understand the needs they are seeing in the schools to understand what support they need, and I am trying to gain insight into the school’s perspective and how ASMV can support them. In addition, there is value in determining how we might duplicate the positive relationships developed between the staff, parents, and students.
- Attended an Ohio autism advocacy webinar. How are others around the state viewing the needs of the autism community.
- Attended the Autism Society of America national advocacy conference. Through the power of virtual tech, I was able to gain an understanding of national policy and learn how to build policy priorities here.
- Met with State Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield) Joined by Board Members Jodi Glass and Kelly Long, and Support Group Facilitator, Kesha Lampley, we shared family struggles living with autism. Educating our political representatives on real-life challenges will lead, we hope, to more enlightened legislation to benefit families. If you have other local representatives with whom you would like us to connect, please initiate the outreach and we will follow through with the meeting.
Living with autism is not easy for families. The Autism Society was founded to support and advocate for you. Please let me know if there is something I can do to help your family.
Robin Suzelis, Director
Autism Society of Mahoning Valley