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Autism Society of IowaWednesday, February 13, 2019
On November 13, 1978, the Iowa Charter with the National Society for Autistic Children was signed, and a grassroots support group for those with autism started in Iowa. This group was developed by parents who wanted to create a better life for their children through education, services and support in their communities and in Iowa.
The National Society for Autistic Children became the Autism Society of America, and it is the largest grassroots organization within the autism community. In 2018, the Autism Society of Iowa was selected as the affiliate of the year.
The Autism Society of Iowa operates with an executive director, associate director and a volunteer board of 24 people who are self-advocates, family members and professionals. We are a self-funded group, relying on fundraising and donations to support our projects and events.
Our largest events are our conferences. We host a state educational conference, which combines a national keynote speaker with breakout sessions from speakers within Iowa. Each year we co-host an Autism and Employment Conference with the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council. This conference focuses on topics specific to assisting those with autism find and maintain employment. We also host safety and medical research conferences in partnership with the University of Iowa Autism Center.
The Autism Society of Iowa recognizes the need for families and those with autism to meet and network. To facilitate this opportunity, we host initiatives throughout the state, such as Splash for Autism events, walks, workshops and tables at resource fairs.
During the legislative session, we host the Autism Advocacy and Acceptance Day at the Iowa state Capitol. We provide shirts to show unity for those with autism, host a rally and assist with advocating for those with autism. Additionally, the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council offers advocacy training during our event.
We also give scholarships to families in need to attend our conference, purchase safety equipment or gain assistance with programming. We award college scholarships to those who have autism and are pursuing a postgraduate program, and to students who are entering a field of study to assist those with autism.
We publish information on autism through our website, www.autismia.org, with our monthly newsletter that goes out by email to over 2400 people and on Facebook and Twitter. Our executive director sits on the autism panel developed by the Iowa Legislature. This panel created a booklet for caregivers who have a newly diagnosed child, which we distribute.
The Autism Society of Iowa celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2018, and we will continue to advocate, support and provide information for those with autism, their families and their communities in the years ahead.