K-1: Severe Autism from a Parent’s Perspective, Told in Clichés

Parents of severely autistic children face many unique challenges, from managing dangerous behaviors, to fighting for desperately needed supports and services, to balancing a host of competing demands, possibly including but not limited to job, spouse, and other kids, to ensuring that — despite all those obstacles and so many others — their child’s life is filled with joy and meaning. This talk offers the perspective of a parent of a 24-year-old severely autistic son: the issues I faced, how (and whether) I resolved them, as well as the policy and societal changes I continue to fight for as an advocate for those most disabled by autism.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Articulate the symptoms most commonly associated with severe autism and appreciate how this end of the spectrum differs from milder presentations of the disorder
  2. Understand the particular stressors on families of severely autistic children
  3. Identify interventions likely to improve the quality of life of severely autistic children and their families


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