A handful of disability organizations are joining forces to establish a national resource center to assist people dealing with autism and other developmental disabilities.

The new initiative known as Autism NOW: The National Autism Resource and Information Center will be established by The Arc in collaboration with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered with the help of $1.87 million awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services this week. Autism NOW will be tasked with helping people connect with services and interventions in their own communities.

A key feature of the new center, organizers say, is that self-advocates will be integral in forming and operating it.

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“People with ASD and other developmental disabilities face significant challenges in accessing the supports they need,” said Commissioner Sharon Lewis of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services which approved the funding. “This new center will serve to connect people with ASD and their families to services and activities that promote self-determination, independence and inclusion in the community.”

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