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COVID-19 Response - NEXT for AUTISM - Patrica Wright

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    Let's start with a general introduction
    where you tell me a little bit more
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    about your organization because I don't
    know much about it.
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    Sure so Next for autism is an organization
    that's dedicated to improving the lives
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    of people with autism. And we do that by
    developing and launching innovative
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    programs. We have been doing that for
    about 15 years and we started with the
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    support of developing a charter school
    that's currently in New York City.
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    Certainly impacted by the COVID-19
    charter school that's in Harlem and
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    then replicated to the Bronx and over the
    last 15 years we've developed additional
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    programs for recreation and leisure and
    then community living and employment.
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    Again really kind of committed to quality
    programming for people with autism.
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    Right now, we are primarily focused on
    the needs of teens and adults
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    with disabilities and autism.
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    How do your members, like all the
    people with autism cope with these
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    uncertainties and how do you
    help them cope?
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    That's such an important issue.
    I think that we're all trying to
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    engage in the best resilience we have
    the strategies of self regulation, and
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    trying to you know, I think those of us
    that are considered typically developing,
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    we're struggling as well. So for people
    with autism it's helping them use some
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    of those compensatory and anxiety
    reducing strategies that we hope that
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    they've learned. Next for Autism has
    been kind of releasing some content
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    digitally on here are some strategies
    and you know one of the things we
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    talk about is we're all working from home.
    What if you are an employee with autism
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    who's currently working from home and
    that's a huge disruption in routine.
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    So, do I know how to ask for the
    appropriate support from my supervisor.
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    Do I know what to do when, meanwhile
    the supervisor is dealing with their own
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    repertoire of challenges. But really how
    do we develop those resources, that
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    content support information
    to those adults.
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    Are there specific strategies, how do you
    protect them? I don't know if like some
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    of them are also in the high risk group?
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    What we also think about again is what
    are the effective supports that would
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    allow someone to continue to engage in
    their daily life to the
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    greatest extent possible, effectively.
    So that is making sure that they
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    have their communication supports and they
    have information and you know a lot of
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    people with autism benefit from visual
    information. Can we write things down for
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    them? Can we make sure that there's lists?
    I'm looking at a list right now.
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    That's good for all of us. I think that's
    also something that people with
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    autism really benefit from. So how do we
    help families that are impacted and the
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    professionals that are supporting them.
    And supporting people with autism
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    with this disrupted routine. You know my
    routine has typically been; I get up,
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    I maybe go to a day program for the
    day, I come home, I see my family on
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    the weekends. Which now I no longer am
    able to see because we're distancing in
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    that way. So that is a huge routine
    disruption.
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    How has this whole pandemic impacted
    your organization? If you tell me a little
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    about your usual everyday life and
    how this has changed?
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    Our organization again, we have these
    partner programs that we work with
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    that we've developed relationships
    with over the years.
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    What we're doing right now is try to
    support those partner programs to
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    be delivering the most effective
    supports possible. Those programs
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    were all in person. Some of them
    have gone virtual and so that's
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    something that we're trying to help with
    support with, were it through technical
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    assistance, to financial support, all of
    those things.
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    So the children from the charter school
    are to have the access to curriculum
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    and there are people involved in the
    recreation activities
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    can now do that online. But some of the
    programs are also community living
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    programs so those programs aren't shut
    down, those are homes.
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    You know so how do we support them and
    that was some of our effort with the
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    relief fund was the protective equipment
    was one of their primary asks.
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    We wanted to be able to deliver that.
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    Did you get any sort of feedback from
    your members, like about how support
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    them or did you get more questions
    or emails during that time right now?
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    I think there's actually more engagement,
    because we're all trying to be supportive
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    of each other and I think that's the
    benefit of having and engaged community.
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    Well, what about this and does this work?
    We started a webinar series for employers
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    because we knew employers were like well
    I want to support my employees with
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    autism but I'm not sure how. We have 100
    slots every week in the webinar and those
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    are free information sessions and they
    are packed, every week that
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    session is filled up. So you know I think
    people are really hungry for information
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    because they want to do it right. They
    want to do the right thing.
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    And looking for resources and we're able
    to offer with the team at Next for Autism
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    has a lot of experience, a lot of
    expertise. So, we're able to offer some
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    of that support to people that maybe
    are engaged in the current work but
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    may not have that extensive history.
    We want to make sure people have
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    access to the right information.
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    How has your personal routine
    changed because I guess you're
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    at home, obviously right now. So what
    else did change?
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    Yes I am. Yes so here we are talking on a
    computer. Which I think has become most of
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    our, you know all those funny
    conversations about I'm Zoomed out.
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    I think that's just trying to be as
    present with people as possible and
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    engaging in this virtual work. I also want
    to say that there has been some, I mean
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    I think that people are looking for silver
    lining because that makes us feel better.
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    And I have heard from some of my friends
    with autism, adult friends, how they're
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    like, you know this is actually, you know
    they're of course gravely concerned about
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    health and welfare of their families and
    the community and themselves, but
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    they also have said, you know I really
    always wanted to work from home, but
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    my job didn't really afford that and now
    you know this is actually working
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    out quite well for me. I really like this
    medium, I like having my autonomy,
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    or my ability to do that. And I'm like
    okay, and I think that's true of
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    many individuals. Right, there's pieces
    of this crisis that has allowed us a
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    window into other creative opportunities.
    You know there's with crisis sometimes
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    comes creativity and these creative
    solutions, for some, have become
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    a silver lining.
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    So I wanted to ask you and I don't
    know if that's too personal, but
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    do you want to share like your
    motivation why you work
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    for this organization?
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    Yes, so I have worked in autism services
    and supports for 30 years. A little more
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    than 30 years. Next for Autism is
    committed to developing quality
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    programming and making sure that
    people with autism have a high
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    quality of life. I am someone who's
    committed to social justice and I
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    understand that the people with
    disabilities in or current society
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    are not afforded the same opportunities
    and we're seeing that you know within
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    the current healthcare crisis and I have
    seen that in my work and I want to work
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    with an organization that wants to
    change that.
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    So, if some of your members with
    autism, if they have some high risk
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    factors, are you somehow concerned?
    Especially because you're in New York
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    that you know those triage protocols
    will affect them negatively.
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    Well one of the positive aspects that
    came out recently was you know we
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    know that people have been alone in
    hospitals and that's a heartbreaking,
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    we hear the stories from popular culture
    media, and it had been the protocol
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    that individuals had to be alone due to
    the transmission factor. And most
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    recently, it has been modified so that
    people with disabilities,
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    people who need someone to be there
    with them as their advocate and they're
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    able to assist with communication and
    decision making is now able to be there.
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    I think that's a really important, you
    know things are changing fast and I
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    think that health community saw that
    was not going to work.
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    And that those individuals were not going
    to receive the best are and we know
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    our outcare providers want the best for
    everyone, and so that was a modification.
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    So I think that's an example of how we
    need to make sure that everybody
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    gets what they need and for some people
    with autism and developmental disabilities
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    that means that they need to have a
    health advocate with them.
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    You know we've been in engaging in some
    communication around that.
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    Here's the things you can think about,
    here's your patient bill of rights.
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    Making sure because things are moving so
    quickly and our health system
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    is so burdened. We just want to make sure
    that everyone's working together.
Title:
COVID-19 Response - NEXT for AUTISM - Patrica Wright
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Team:
ABILITY Magazine
Duration:
10:01

English subtitles

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