Autism Action Partnership works to create and fund programs that fill critical gaps in Nebraska autism services. Currently, according to one measure, Nebraska ranks 37th in the nation for the delivery of disability services by State Medicaid. Nebraska has sustained a staggering increase in the prevalence of autism in children and young adults ages 3 to 21 in the past ten years. The prevalence of autism is expected to continue to rise. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than will all other developmental disabilities combined, underscoring the urgent need for increased and improved autism services in Nebraska. With the funding and support of Autism Action Partnership and the leadership of autism stakeholders in Nebraska, autism services across the state will grow and expand to meet the increasing demands for autism programs and services.
Gail Werner-Robertson and Scott Robertson, the founders of Autism Action Partnership (AAP), laid the groundwork for the organization in 2000 when they began the GWR Sunshine Foundation. As the parents of two sons diagnosed with autism, they personally experienced the constant challenges and frustrations associated with finding adequate, cost effective treatment services, medical expertise, and basic educational support for their children. Determined that other Nebraska families would not have to endure the same struggles, Gail and Scott began their work to provide support to individuals with autism and their families across the state.
Renamed Autism Action Partnership upon becoming a public not-for-profit foundation in 2008, AAP has taken major strides to positively impact the landscape of support available for individuals with autism in Nebraska. Since its inception, AAP has partnered with various autism service providers to increase diagnosis accuracy, improve behavioral treatment services, begin pilot projects designed to develop critical social skills therapies in schools, and to provide recreation therapy, family respite, and scholarships for individuals with autism to receive the services and treatments so desperately needed.
AAP has made significant progress in increasing services available to individuals with autism and their families. However, there is still much work to be done before every individual with autism in Nebraska will receive the services and support so desperately needed to significantly improve their quality of life. As we enter 2016 with a new strategic plan and a new focus on employment and career opportunities for those with ASD, we continue to partner with those who share our vision of a truly inclusive Nebraska.