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Autism Pensacola Splits from ASA to Keep Funds Local

Autism florida Managing Editor's Note: As many of you know, a large portion of the autism community banded together over the last couple of weeks to support NAA's bid to win $1,000,000 in the Chase giveaway. Many were surprised that the Autism Society of America was silent throughout the campaign, despite repeated attempts to enlist their help to garner a pot of cash to help families with autism through non-controversial programs.  Today's Google alert included this story about a local chapter spinning itself off to retain autonomy.  Read the full article at PNJ.com:

Autism Pensacola is the new name for the Autism Society of the Panhandle. The change makes it independent of the Autism Society of America, which is reorganizing.
The move ensures money raised locally stays here, said Quint Studer, executive committee president.

"The national group wants more control and decision-making and for the money to be held in the Northeast," he said. "By becoming independent, we control our funds and make decisions on when to support national (causes)..."

Comments

Maureen H. McDonnell, RN

At this point in time, any autism organization that does not endorse the biomedical approach to treating autism is in the dark ages. The science is there and the parental reports of kids improving with this method are well documented. What more is needed to convince these well funded organizations of the logic and value of addressing the physiological issues that often cause autistic behavior? It's a no brainer! They should all be reevaluating their mission statements and conference agendas to include the biomedical treatments and a good chunk of the money they raise via their fundraising efforts should be going to help families obtain these types of services.
Maureen H. McDonnell, RN
cofounder: Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet

Former ASA Supporter

It's unfortunate that ASA has fallen by the wayside and lost sight of what is important, the volunteers in the field that run their chapters that support thousands daily.

They've become what has been created by the majority of their BOD that makes their living off ASD. If that is not a conflict of interest, I don't know what is.

I agree too with the previous post. ASA members move on to support those chapters that leave and continue to support you. Also support a national organization like NAA who are transparent and respectful in honoring options and supporting the needs of their membership.

Folks that are members you should look at their 990, ask to see how much is being spent on their overhead, and then look at their BOD composition and see if it's representative of those that are supporting it and keeping it afloat.

Why do you also think that they wanted to take away members right to vote in their BOD? Sad really because ASA was the organization supporting families daily as needed. Now they can't even raise enough funds to sustain and operate on less than some of their state chapters.

NAA probably has a bigger budget and is more cost effective within precentiles of actual gross vs overhead costs. The same with AS. It's not the actually funds paid out, but what percentile those funds are of those raised. At one point ASA's CEO was making at least 10% of their annual gross for his salary alone, plus incentives.

Families I'd urge you to look at where the monies you raise go.

Keep them local, keep them pure, and ensure transparency of your organizations.

It's a shame that ASA has done this, tried to dissolve chapters that have been keeping them afloat for years so they can have a piece of the pie. Why? To pay salaries of folks doing what?

Leon

As with any organization, the prudent action before giving support would be to ask to see their financials, and see if the "bang for the buck" they deliver is justifiable. As a national organization, ASA's is not. It's not just the salary levels (though that should raise some flags). It's also that there is virtually NOTHING to show for it in the way of true "deliverables" to the community. Oh wait... I was wrong. I guess the "deliverable" is all that mail I get from ASA. Of course, 19 of every 20 pieces of mail, email, etc. from ASA are nothing more than a plea for donations. Without the funds generated through those direct appeals, ASA is unsustainable. Continuing to support ASA is like any other bad habit... stop feeding it, and it will go away. And hopefully, the good local organizations that ASA claims (or used-to claim, as in the case of Pensacola and Delaware and several others) as chapters will continue their good work providing support and advocacy for families in their own local communities.

Wake up people... support your local autism organization that does the real work. Let the others, like ASA, die a merciful death.

ASA_sucks

I once advocated for others join ASA so that we could get board members who were knowlegable about CURRENT cutting edge research and treatments such as biomedical and dietary inteventions, along with behavioral treatments. Many thought that if we could get a majority of board members who were pro-biomed, they would have a positive influence on the board. Unfortunately, that has not changed the old guard, and it chaps my hide to pay for Lee Grossman's $200,000 annual part time salary. (can someone tell me how different that is from Autism Speaks paying their members a gazillion bucks for "work at home jobs"?) Enough already- stop paying for organizations that suck the life out of families and have nothing to offer whatsoever.

Judith

Hmmm....I never asked why our local ASA dissolved, and we have started a new NAA North Texas Chapter (which I am proud to be working with).....
Kinda figured it was for this reason.
Hell, even AS was supporting the NAA. I thought that was huge!

AnaB

I don't know much about this split, but I have been hearing that a lot of people in the autism community are mad at ASA now. Truth is ASA comes at Autism from a different angle than NAA. Could that have something to do with why they didn't want to participate, a difference in values? I would ask my fellow biomed parents how many of you have said you refuse to do an Autism Speaks walk ever again? Would you vote for them if they were in the running for a million dollars? Some of you might, many would not because you don't agree with their work. I'm not saying I agree with what ASA did...personally, I'd have voted for anyone from ASA, NAA, AS on down because I believe each works on an important piece. I'm just saying perhaps the best way to handle this is to say, as the author of this article did, that we are disappointed, and move on.

Bad Apple

I've never seen a large organization of people (even ones who are supposedly all 'friends') that stayed honest. Not saying it can't happen. Just that I never have seen it. And I think the larger it is the less likely it is.

For Lapen's family, Autism Pensacola has been a life line. "It has put me in contact with people with whom I can share my thoughts about Micah or just to say, 'This is what is happening,' "

She probably has no idea how invaluable that ability alone is.

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