April 24, 2023 | Blog
Els for Autism® & NAMI Collaborate to Support Individuals with Autism & Psychiatric Diagnoses
West Palm Beach, Florida (April 13th, 2023) – April is World Autism Month. Recently, we partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Palm Beach County for the Lecture Series: An Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) & Mental Health.
Our very own Dr. Erin Brooker Lozott, Ed.D, BCBA-D, CCC-SLP, explored her expertise as the Director of Programs for the Els for Autism Foundation® while providing an in-depth review of the autism spectrum disorder condition, associated characteristics, and common co-occurring disorders.
Lozott said relationships with organizational partners, like NAMI, are crucial. “NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.”
With 85% percent of autistic children also having some form of co-occurring Psychiatric Diagnosis and 73-81% of adults with ASD meeting the criteria for at least one current co-occurring psychiatric disorder, individuals with autism, their caregivers, professionals in the field, and autism organizations must combine forces with NAMI, both in research and in practice for actual change to occur. “NAMI’s new initiative to begin offering education and resources on autism has the potential to be transformational as access to sound support and services for people with autism and mental health has been previously limited. Therefore, knowing I would be a part of combining the fields and resources available to people affected by autism and mental health was significant to me both professionally and personally.”
During the lecture series, attendees also heard from FAU CARD’s Cheryl Checkers, President of NAMI PBC, who spoke on the importance of females receiving a proper autism diagnosis. “Cheryl Checkers is a well-respected and seasoned licensed mental health counselor and NAMI board member. Cheryl has been a trailblazer in the field of mental health and autism. Her presentation on females on the spectrum was educational, innovative, and inspiring.
“I hope the information shared in both my and Cheryl’s presentations will spread beyond the attendees as this knowledge is necessary to maximize the outcomes of people with autism and mental illness.”
Progress in connecting mental health with autism has been made; however, there is still room for improvement. “We have university programs integrating information on autism into the training and licensure requirements of students working to become mental health professionals. And now global organizations, such as NAMI and Els for Autism Foundation, are collaborating and sharing information with families ensuring access to research-based information and resources.”
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it is important to continue working together to generate the best outcomes for our communities!