A survey released Friday by Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, names the top 10 best places to live if you have autism.
The top place was New York City, closely followed by Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Boston. Other honorable mentions include Northern New Jersey, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and Milwaukee. The criteria for the survey included the satisfaction of the availability of services and resources, the proximity of services to where they live, flexible employer policies, access to clinical/medical care and recreational opportunities.
The survey also revealed the states where communities were unhappy about local autism resources, or the lack thereof, including Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, Michigan and California.
Nearly 75 percent of respondents were not satisfied with their community’s resources and services for autism.
“These survey results confirm what we hear every day from families – that they are struggling to get their children services that are essential to their development and well-being,” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, in a press release.
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that can inhibit a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and can be accompanied by behavioral challenges. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called autism a national public health crisis , which does not have a known cause or cure.
“Our goal in conducting this survey is to encourage conversations within the autism community, and to inform policy makers and leaders in local communities about the tremendous need for increased services and inspire action. Overall, the needs of the growing population of people with autism are not being met, and that has to change,” said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks.
Most respondents said that autism educational services were available in their community—but that there were significant inconsistencies in the quality and level of services.
Saturday, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day. Landmarks all over the U.S., including the Empire State Building in New York City, will light up in blue to show support.