Call for help from Autism families

TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - If you have a child, teen or adult with autism, the Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism needs your input on what services you need. It's rolling out an on-line survey to gather parents and caregivers input on what gaps in services exist and how local agencies can work together to creating programming to serve those needs.

Shannon Sarkisian's six-year old son Wyatt was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and has been attending the ProMedica Autism Center.

He has capped out the age where he can receive early intervention services and needs to move onto the next supported level of education, which in theory should be his local school district.

But Sarkisian says she's concerned and worried about the programs offered to support Wyatt, "What do those resources look like, they're very vague in those answers and we can't get any particulars based on children's needs and assessments," says Sarkisian.

Catina Harding is the Executive Director for the Great Lakes Center for Autism.

"When we do go out there to create the programs, we can say we know these needs exist, these are the numbers that we're seeing and this is where families really want us to focus our efforts," says Harding. Harding goes onto say "As we develop these services for the entire life of our individuals living with autism we have to look past high school to employment opportunities, we have great universities right here."

The University of Toledo is working with the GLCA right now to address the challenges students with high functioning autism face in in the STEM area which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Dr. Scott Molitor Ph.D is the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, "What can we do to make sure that these students, despite their high skills in Math and Science, what is it that they need," says Molitor. Dr. Molitor says that addressing the issues at the college level follows students into the workplace. "Not only that the students are successful, but that employers can get the most out of the student."

The Survey is available online at: http://www.greatlakesautism.org/