Easter Seals and autism?

That is exactly what I thought when I was perusing the job postings at Easter Seals in October of last year.  I was finishing my degrees and looking for work. I thought I would put my newly earned degrees in public health and education to work.  I perused the Easter Seals Web site thinking that I might find a job related to health disparities for people with disabilities, an area of interest of mine within the field of public health. And then I saw it – National Director, Autism Services.  “Autism Services?” What is Easter Seals doing in autism? I have been working in the field of autism for over 20 years, and Easter Seals was not on my radar as a service provider for individuals with autism. I had a lot to learn.

During my years in Hawaii, I had the opportunity to participate in grant projects with Easter Seals Hawaii in the area of assistive technology. The experience with the Hawaii affiliate was resoundingly positive. If there was an opportunity to contribute my clinical knowledge and years of experience in the field of  autism service within an organization like Easter Seals, I wanted to find out what this was all about.

My initial conversations with the team members at Easter Seals were eye-opening. 

  • Easter Seals was providing services to THOUSANDS of individuals with autism, thousands!
  • Individuals with autism were embedded in Easter Seals’ programs throughout the nation. 
  • Easter Seals had silently become the largest service provider to individuals with autism.

And, Easter Seals wanted to champion these current efforts and increase their capacity to serve the growing demand. They were looking for someone to collaborate in these efforts in the role of National Director – would I be lucky enough to “make-muster.”  I was!

I came on-board with Easter Seals full-time in January. Yes, the transition from living and working in Hawaii to working at the Easter Seals national headquarters in Chicago during winter may not be demonstrative of true intelligence – but the opportunity to work with this organization and their commitment to serving people with autism was absolutely a blessing! Easter Seals serves people with autism from the youngest child diagnosed to the older adult needing a positive place to spend their retirement days. We have the ability to support people with autism throughout the life-span.  And I get to contribute to this effort.

You, too, can contribute to the work of Easter Seals. Volunteer at or visit your local Easter Seals. Take a look at the job listings and see what’s available in your field within our organization. Easter Seals is committed to meeting the needs of the community – and you are that community.

Read Dr. Patricia Wright’s biography.


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  1. Noël Balaker Says:

    Hello Dr. Wright!

    Congratulations and welcome to Easter Seals! I have been with the organization for a little over a year now and I couldn’t have found a better place to be. The amazing services that Easter Seals provides has truly touched so many lives and just being a part of it all has become an integral portion of my life.

    Through these online blogs and our MySpace page, I have connected with many individuals who have wonderful success stories to share and knowing what each special person means to our programs helps fuel the blazing flames of passion coming from everyone involved. Many thanks to you for the spectacular work you do in providing help and hope to those in need!

    I agree with John and can’t wait to hear from others on this blog too!

    With Much Love,


  2. John Cocciolone Says:

    We all welcome you Patricia!!! (or is it Dr. Patricia?)

    I have worked for Easter Seals (in Michigan) for 23 years and if there is one thing about Easter Seals, it is that each affiliate does what is needed in their communities. Some don’t have strong Autism services (yet), but they do have high quality programs. The only thread that connects us all is that each Easter Seal affiliate has people (staff, volunteers, families we serve, etc) that care about people. If we don’t provide a specifc service, you will always find a person in that affiliate that will help you navigate the myriad (and sometimes rediculous) systems where services can be found. We all can be making more money working somewhere else, so we may as well enjoy what we do, right?

    Best wishes. I love this blog and hope others will tell us what they think.


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