(Updated: August 7, 2012 at 1:19 PM CT)
A leading national advocacy group is calling for a summit this fall in an effort to mitigate divisiveness within the autism community.
The Autism Society wants to bring together all of the major autism organizations to establish a series of joint goals.
“The infighting that a lot of times characterizes the autism community needs to stop,” said Scott Badesch, president of the Autism Society. “Until we come together, we’re not going to be able to move the needle on enhancing autism services.”
Tension has been brewing for years with parents and even professionals at odds over everything from possible causes of the developmental disorder to whether precious dollars should be spent on research or services for those on the spectrum.
As a result, Badesch said he sees many other interest groups getting a stronger reception locally and in Congress, citing elderly Americans and the gay and lesbian community as examples. By working together with a united front, Badesch said he hopes autism advocates can be more productive.
The Autism Society is calling for leaders of national organizations to come together in the same way that many companies, for example, work together through industry trade groups. While each organization would retain its own agenda and perspective, the community could work collectively to achieve specific objectives.
Badesch’s group is reaching out to other stakeholders at present to gauge interest. He said the initial response has been positive but declined to offer specifics.
In a statement Tuesday, an Autism Speaks spokesman said the organization “looks forward to joining this conversation about how we can all work to improve the lives of people with autism and their families.”
Inquiries from Disability Scoop to three other national groups advocating for individuals with autism about the proposed summit did not yield any immediate response.
With the election coming this fall, those initiating the talks say they are hoping to bring a group together before the new Congress gets to work next year.