Perri spent nearly an our outlining upcoming changes caregivers in New York will face. He spoke about a greater focus on outcomes of services rather than simply proof they have been provided and the more negative perceptions of caregivers than in the past.
Then reminded the crowd of over 600 people that they have influence.
"One thing that has not change is the part parents and family members can have on these changes," Perri said. "Providers have a lot less ability to effect change than a single parent in this room. Your voice as a parent to your legislator can do more than anything I could say.
Perri spoke about challenges New York faces in funding care for people with Autism and other mental disabilities and a shift toward integrating those people more into the rest of society, though the data on how such changes have worked elsewhere is very limited.
"I'm not trying to scare anybody," Perri said. "This is your opportunity to speak up and give your perspective how it has to be for your family."
The symposium, now in its eighth year, brings together experts to speak on various issues related to life with autism as well as setting up tables for those with information to share. Among those this year were the Nathan Kline Institute in Orangeburg, which was looking for participants with autism for a clinical research study. To find out more about the VANILLA study, go to www.VanillaAutismStudy.com.
The Clarkstown Police Department was also set up to provide information about Project Lifesaver, a program that uses technology to help keep track of individuals with disabilities such as Alzheimer's disease, Autism and Downs Syndrome who may be prone to wandering off. For more information, go to www.projectlifesaver.org or call (845) 639-5800.
Perri gave the first of five presentations, including "Considerations in Medication Treatment for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders" by Dr. Russel Tobe of the Nathan Kline Institute.
The others were
- Gina Zecchin-Tiri, certified behavior analyst and curriculum coordinator for Prime Time Upper School presents "Who is Postiive Behavioral Intervention & Support for? Using What We Know to Change Systems for Students and Staff"
- Dr James Cook, Ph.D and Dr. Jill Harper, Ph.D - Melmark,New England present "A Review of Treatments for OCD and Repetitive Behavior in Children with Autism"
- Dr. Joshua John Diel, Ph.D, University of Notre Dame presents "Using Technology to Improve Communication in ASD: What Humans Can Learn From Robots"