To create a volunteer, self-identification registry of individuals and families living with autism for utilization in the wake of adverse events and natural disasters to care for this vulnerable population. To educate and prepare communities using the ASD Plan model prior to an event to improve their situation in the wake of a calamity.
The number of individuals with autism has increased dramatically to a rate of 1 in 59 according to the United States Centers for Disease Control. This means 1 in 29 American families are likely living with autism.
During adverse events and natural disasters when a family’s primary home is either inadequate for shelter during the event or damaged and uninhabitable following the event, alternative sheltering may be required. People with autism can find it difficult to navigate the stress and sensory overload of large, congregational shelters. Families and individuals living with autism may be socio-economically compromised and/or living in crisis with stress levels approaching those experienced by combat soldiers prior to an event. Emergency situations cause major disruption to surroundings and routines. Stabilizing the individual with autism in a quiet setting as soon as possible will help their level of functioning settle more quickly as they develop an adjusted routine.
This program will seek to provide alternate solutions to large congregational settings and refine methods for caring for ASD individuals when such emergency accommodations are necessary.
States have no coordinated systems to quickly identify ASD individuals across the lifespan. Many individuals and families living with ASD do not currently receive Medicaid, other state based services or educational services. The ASDPlan Registry system allows families and individuals in our community to self-identify and pre-register. This allows for follow-up for services following an adverse event or natural disaster.
Individuals and families registering for the ASDPlan Registry must have a ICD-10 code diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder and/or an active Individualized Education Plan (IEP) identifying the individual with ASD. All registration is completely voluntary, secure and private but will benefit the individual or family when the event occurs if assistance is needed especially in extreme conditions.
Prior to an event, Unlocking Autism will oversee developing and maintaining awareness programs to encourage registration and participation in emergency preparedness exercises for the families and individuals registered. If possible, prior to an known adverse weather/natural disaster event, Unlocking Autism will coordinate with other NPO/NGOs to issue updates via email/text to remind individuals to take shelter, prepare evacuations and enact their Personal Emergency Preparation Plan (PEP-Plan).
During and following the event, families and individuals with living with autism will be able to report to designated local special needs shelters either for safety during the event or for a 72-hour period following the event. Shelters and local NPO/NGOs will coordinate directly with Unlocking Autism and Government/OEP staff to upload information regarding individuals who present at the shelters that are pre-registered with the ASDPlan.
Identified individuals/families will receive priority for placement in FEMA registered hotels after demonstrating that there is no other option for shelter (i.e. extended family, friends, etc). The local NPO/NGO will coordinate with Unlocking Autism and Government/OEP staff to manage individuals/families who did not pre-register to process the transfer from emergency shelters into a more stabilized housing arrangements as soon as possible.
Local and state government will keep adequate supplies stored that will serve this population to calm them in the special needs/congregational shelters including items such as weighted blankets, noise cancelling headphones, door/window alarms/bracelets to alert for elopement prevention and sensory toys. Unlocking Autism will work with state officials to recommend specific items. Individuals and families who are pre-registered will receive priority for distribution of these items once the event occurs.
UA Pilot projects have been underway in the Gulf South region since 2005 with project launch anticipated in 2021.
After nearly two decades of riding out some of the country’s most damaging hurricanes, as well as other disasters and now a pandemic, we have compiled a prep list to help get your family started with building a supply pantry. You can do this even in small spaces if you use the right containers. Most families don’t have more than a week supply of food on hand. Our families can’t move as quickly as some families and many struggle economically. Working now to build a supply will help increase food/water security in general, and also help you be prepared if something bad happened unexpectedly and supply chains, or utilities supplies like electricity, gas/oil, water, were cut.
You can find our starter list here.