Connecting Autism Families with Emergency Support

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In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina created serious public health problems in the coastal communities of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama by destroying or degrading the capacity of many communities to deliver critical social services. Among the people adversely aff ected by the hurricane were more than 50,000 families with a member who has autism. People with autism can have great difficulty adjusting to change. Th e disruption of daily routines can cause severe anxiety and stress not only for the people with autism but also for their families and caregivers. During the evacuation from Hurricane Katrina, for example, many autism families were asked to leave public shelters because of the disruptive behaviors of their children. Th ese families were in desperate need of services that local, state, or federal agencies could not provide at the time. In response, autism support groups mobilized to help.

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