The Best Places For People With Autism to Live

New York A survey conducted by Autism Speaks points out the best, and the worst, places for people who have autism to live in. This is the first group ever to rank cities based on how well, or how poorly, they provide services that meet the needs of adults and children who have autism. Is your city on this list?

The survey included responses that came from more than 800 people who were affected by autism. The people lived in 48 states, and the District of Columbia. The survey asked about how satisfied families were with how well the city they lived in provided educational, medical, and recreational resources to children who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The survey also asked about families satisfaction with flexible employment policies and respite care for parents. Autism Speaks, the group that conducted this survey, is the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization.

The cities that ranked in the top ten for people who have autism were: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, and Milwaukee. There were many factors that caused these cities to be considered the best. Families who lived in these cities (which came out to be about 26% of respondents to this survey), reported being generally happy with their local schools.

They also reported being able to both locate, and afford, good doctors and good clinical care for their family member who is on the autism spectrum. People who live in these cities reported being able to work flexible hours. They also felt they could easily find recreational opportunities (like little league, or summer camps that are designed to accommodate children with special needs). Another good thing about living in these “top ten” cities was that it took less than an hour for a family to arrive at a school, a doctor’s office, or at other services that their child who had autism needed.

The other 74% of the people who responded to this survey said that they were generally unsatisfied with how well their city met their needs, in terms of care for autistic family members. Some of the states that ranked the lowest were: Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and California. The biggest problem for families who lived in those states, and who had an autistic family member, was the lack of respite services. Many reported having absolutely no access to respite services at all.

What would these families like to see improved? 83% wanted more local support then they were getting. These families had to go through excessive lengths to find appropriate classes for their autistic children, to hire special placement experts, and to be able to change schools or districts. Some reported that they needed a lawyer in order to get their child’s public school to comply with the legal requirements for equal education for kids who have special learning needs.

Image by Wilhelm Joys Anderson on Flickr