Ten best places to live if you have autism

Every parent wants the best for their child. For some families the “best” sometimes means choosing a new place to live. Families have asked me where the “best” place to live is if you have a child with autism. They wonder whether there is one location where services are all top-notch, a place where their child could be guaranteed access to quality treatment and a wonderful community of support.

The good news is that there are great communities and service providers in many locations. And the bad news is that even in the most service-rich areas, not every child is receiving quality intervention. I have worked in dense urban environments (San Francisco) and rural/remote environments (Alaska). Both settings delivered fantastic services.

Autism Speaks just completed an on-line survey on the ‘Ten Best Places to Live if You Have Autism.’ The report has some great stories about communities and their support for residents with autism. The majority of the locales were large urban settings. This may simply be an issue of volume — there are more people whom can respond in New York City than there are in Paducah.

But even in the large urban centers, the majority of respondents in the survey felt that services were still lacking. When asked, I tell families to try to determine where they might find the greatest amount of support. When I was working in rural Alaska, some parents felt some sense of urgency about moving to a larger city for better services. Then I’d see their child with autism playing after school with their cousins who lived in the village, attending school in the village alongside classmates they had grown up with since birth, fishing with their grandfather who was an elder in the village. These children may have had to take a plane in order to see a neurologist somewhere, but they were able to spend every day with an incredibly supportive community.

So where IS the best place to live if you have autism? Parents every day make this personal decision. I look forward to the day when there is no “best” place to live … because every place will be a good place to live.


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